Animal Spirits Re-Kindled: Amusing Ourselves to Death

On today’s show, Ben and I talk about Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business. This book was written in 1985 about what the history of communication until the modern age. He was more than a little critical of what TV was doing to our society. Oh if he could only see Bravo today. I could only imagine what Postman would have to say about social media.

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“there is a certain measure of arbitrariness in the forms that truth-telling may take”

“Anyone who is even slightly familiar with the history of communications knows that every new technology for thinking involves a trade-off. It giveth and taketh away, although not quite in equal measure.”

“We must be careful in praising or condemning because the future may hold surprises for us.”

“The form in which ideas are expressed affects what those ideas will be”

“Television does not extend or amplify literate culture. It attacks it.”

“Thinking does not play well on television, a fact that television directors discovered long ago.”

“There can be no liberty for a community which lacks the means by which to detect lies” (Walter Lippmann)

“In New York City, radio station WINS entreats its listeners to ‘Give us twenty-two minutes and we’ll give you the world.’ This is said without irony, and its audience, we may assume, does not regard the slogan as the conception of a disordered mind.”

“The television commercial is not at all about the character of products to be consumed. It is about the character of the consumers of products.”

“The A-Team and Cheers are no threat to our public health. Eye-Witness News and Sesame Street are.”