Monday, February 4, 2013
In chapter five of Postman's Amusing Ourselves To Death, he addresses the idea of news or information losing its potency via the increase in popularity and use of the telegraph in the 19th century. Postman describes the situation thusly, "For the first time, we were sent information which answered no question we had asked, and which, in any case, did not permit the right of reply." The advent of the telegraph allowed for the transfer of information and "news" to far away places. Happenings on one coast were now magnetically transmitted messages being interpreted on the other. Individuals were being exposed to "news" that wasn't local, and because of this, they could do nothing about said news stories. In 2013, we're constantly being clubbed in the head with information from around the world, whether that be through the internet, television, or the radio. Interestingly enough, Postman describes many political situations in his book that are still hot topics today, such as conflicts in the Middle East, economic concerns, crime, and unemployment. Now that we're more exposed to "news" than we ever have been before, do you think we're more well equipped to deal with these issues? If I feel so inclined, I can go to Youtube and watch helmet-cam footage of United States military personnel engaging Taliban forces in Afghanistan. Does being able to do so give me more ownership of the conflict? Does taking a front row seat in the violence allow us as a society to make more well-informed decisions to stop the fighting, or prevent future conflicts from happening? Do you think being exposed to so much news all of the time has a generally positive or negative effect on society?