Amusing Ourselves to Death

[Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business]
Penguin Books
Year of publication: 
Moral assessment: 
Type: Thought
Nothing inappropriate.
Requires prior general knowledge of the subject.
Readers with knowledgeable about the subject matter.
Contains doctrinal errors of some importance.
Whilst not being explicitly against the faith, the general approach or its main points are ambiguous or opposed to the Church’s teachings.
Incompatible with Catholic doctrine.
Literary quality: 
Transmits values: 
Sexual content: 
Violent content: 
Vulgar or obscene language: 
Ideas that contradict Church teaching: 
The rating of the different categories comes from the opinion of Delibris' collaborators

The television has turned learning into part of the entertainment industry and children are more and more demanding to be entertained in schools. Watching has replaced reading, and soundbites have replaced thoughtful, reasoned arguments. Television employs graphic images, sensationalism and the manipulation of the emotions. Children and adults alike indulge in this easily accessed information and their brains are dulled accordingly. What has happened to application, patience, thoughtfulness, memorisation and reasoning? The arrival of wall-to-wall television has dire consequences with respect to politics, religion, education and the consumption of news. The author may refer us to George Orwell’s 1984 but he recommends we better carefully read Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World to see where we are heading. It is not that the way we receive information has changed, but that the very information itself has changed.

Well-argued but now somewhat outdated with the arrival of the Internet age. However, its central tenet can equally be applied to mobile phones and computer consoles as it does to the television of the time. The book is more based on scholarly informed observation than on research, and does rather focus in on the negative, perhaps overstating it, and underplaying the positive. The book has a clear USA bias. Generations of Americans are being raised without conceptual thinking, careful reasoning or any sense of delayed response. Postman highlights the problem rather than proposing the solution. Surely the solution lies in the way parents need to bring up their children to balance reading and old-fashioned learning with the use of technology?

Author: Cliff Cobb, United Kingdom
Update on: Nov 2021