Neil Postman's Book, Amusing Ourselves to Death: Changing The Medium

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About this sample

About this sample


Words: 587 |

Page: 1|

3 min read

Published: Dec 12, 2018

Words: 587|Page: 1|3 min read

Published: Dec 12, 2018

The Thin Line Broke, the River Overflowed

The ideology that society will stop searching for information because of the many distractions that exist, is what Neil Postman suggest will occur in America. Postman begins the book “Amusing Ourselves to Death” with a comparison between Orwell’s 1984 dystopia which suggest that tyranny and oppression will obscure society by taking away its source of information, and Huxley’s “ Brave New World” dystopia contemplates the opposite. Postman argues that Huxley’s dystopia will occur because of the exponential growth of show business that has replaced print culture.

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Postman begins with the idea that media is the metaphor, the media (the way) in which information is discussed or transmitted within a society is part of the society and it limits the ideas that the society can communicate. The media it’s not the message but the metaphor because a message is clear, a metaphor has to be interpreted based on the way it was delivered and expressed. Smoke signals are a great example of this, Native Americans were limited to their media( smoke signals) their ideas were as big as was their medium. According to Postman, this is important because the predominant media in our society shapes who we are and how we think. In typographic America men, women, and children were willing to seat seven hours through a debate and come back if necessary. In today’s America the presidential candidates have one minute to answer the questions in the presidential debate, in contrast to the 1800s when debates were approximately seven hours long. The medium changes the identity of a society, in Typographic America- men spoke the written word, in present America- men speak as the television host speaks.

Pamphlets were the way americans spread the news in Typographic America. The news were local and had an effect of every civilians daily life. Electricity and Television changed this practice forever. The news of the day had no effect on the daily life of americans, a massive amount of irrelevant information flooded the streets. Everyone became interested not in what mattered but on what was new. Advertisement arose and the news became nothing but a bright and large title. America had lost it’s interest in validity, and adopted rarity. The years in which men considered books to be one of their most valuable asset, as seen in the Mayflower embarkation, was forgotten. America’s values and morals were changed and with that America changed. Las Vegas came to be the most iconic city in the United States. Show business replaced books and with that it replaced the value of truth.

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Postman used Huxley’s dystopia to show the reader or the audience what America has become. The values and morals of the typographic era are gone, they have been replaced by the amusements of television and irrelevant yet interesting news that fight for attention daily seating on every corner, and specially on every screen. Postman’s purpose is not to derogate televisions usefulness, he simply proposes that televisions purpose is to entertain only. The truth of a society is transmitted through its media and television is incapable of transmitting complex and abstract ideas because it has no context. Postman wants to modify the way people think of communication by showing the importance of the medium used, he shows America that we have become a replica of Huxley’s dystopia. Therefore, we as a society must correct our error, and transform our media because when we transform the medium, we transform the truth, we ultimately transform ourselves.

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Neil Postman’s book, Amusing ourselves to death: Changing the medium. (2018, December 11). GradesFixer. Retrieved February 25, 2024, from
“Neil Postman’s book, Amusing ourselves to death: Changing the medium.” GradesFixer, 11 Dec. 2018,
Neil Postman’s book, Amusing ourselves to death: Changing the medium. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 25 Feb. 2024].
Neil Postman’s book, Amusing ourselves to death: Changing the medium [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2018 Dec 11 [cited 2024 Feb 25]. Available from:
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