The "Amusing Ourselves to Death" is a public discourse book written by Neil Postman in 1985. The book is dedicated to a thorough analysis of how the public discourse including both verbal and written communication developed over the centuries. According to Postman, there were different critical points, which had a great impact on the evolution and development of communication that all left a trace in mankind's history. The development of the alphabet, as well as the invention of printing, the telegraph, and television can be considered as those critical points.
Postman's theory is that the world's society with Americans, in particular, appeared in great danger of being brainwashed by their boundless trust in television and media. According to him, such communication methods as oral and printed ones require some work over yourself, hence are more educative. To understand what you are reading or hearing, you need to learn, study new the languages and their cultures, etc. Postman used a unique term "The Typographic Mind" created by the development of printing. He states, that from the 17th to 19th centuries, the greatest part of the Western civilization representatives were able to endure and even understand verbose and extended speeches as well as written volumes. As a proof to this, Postman exemplified the debates between Stephen Douglass and Abraham Lincoln. The first debate in 1854 went as long as seven hours whilst the next in 1858 went for three hours. To the contrast to all this, Postman states that today's political debates can't and don't go further an hour or so. American attention simply can't last more. With the creation of television, people somehow alienated from the print press and started relying on the information got from TV media. The roots for plentiful problems of society nowadays relate to the means of presenting and discussing them. A mere look at the way people got information prior to the invention of television and after makes everything clear. The fact that the television is the real culprit of this era is left unnoticed. The reason is that the damages caused by television are so universally common that they remain unheeded.
However, with the number of media sources growing day by day, as well as social network created Postman's theories and considerations are as actual today as never before. It is essential to develop intellectual debates and discussions not to let television and other media means amuse us to death!
The "Amusing Ourselves to Death" is a public discourse book written by Neil Postman in 1985. The book is dedicated to a thorough analysis of how the public discourse including both verbal and written communication developed over the centuries.