Although this book is almost 20 years old, it still has a lot of importance to our current society as the key issues are still very much in play, perhaps even more so. I would like to see an update to this book, and also perhaps include looking at how the Internet is shaping society (though that should probably be a book by itself).
We all know why it's a waste of time to follow pop culture at the expense of serious goings on in the world. But Postman shows us how the very tools of pop culture -- from the telegraph and camera to the computer -- overwhelm us with a deluge of information without helping us put it into context. We have to be aware of the dark side of these tools of progress, in order to use them wisely. Excellent book that made me see ordinary things in a new way.
Professor Postman's book claims that electronic media, characterized by immediacy, compels our discourse to be decontextualized and trivial, i.e. entertaining. Even worse, their dominance has shaped consumers' expectations of all other media so that they must also become decontextualized and trivial to gain acceptance.
Kevin R. (kcrouth) - , reviewed Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business on
Amusing Ourselves to Death is an excellent overview of how the US has moved away from being a nation of readers and rational thinkers, and become a society whose primary mode of communication is entertainment via sound bites and images. The specific focus is on television (published in 1985) but the parallels in other media are unmistakable. This book gives a chilling reality to the predictions of Aldous Huxley in Brave New World, which I read in the last year. There are no sure solutions offered, but some suggestions are given. Most frightening to me is that there may be no way out of our soma induced bliss. The present reality of Trump is clearly a symptom of the dysfunctional state of our national "thought", communication and collective intelligence. We are an Idiocracy!