Amusing Ourselves to Death

I’ve recently finished reading this book I got at a flea market (I’m a sucker for bargains!) and even though it was published in 1985, I think it is still relevant to this day. I’d like to share a few quotes from the book:



” Amusing ourselves to death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business

by Neil Postman

amusing ourselves to death

Introduction: Postman regularly refers to the Orwellian and Huxley nightmares. (Luckily, I’ve already read Orwell’s book “1984”) Huxley wrote “Brave New World”

“Contrary to common belief even among the educated, Huxley and Orwell did not prophesy the same thing. Orwell warns that we will be overcome by an externally imposed impression. But in Huxley’s vision, no Big Brother is required to deprive people of their autonomy, maturity and history. As he saw it, people will come to love their oppression, to adore the technologies that undo their capacities to think.” 


This is especially true in this day in age. Postman stopped at television, because there was no Internet back then. Today we have an even bigger culprit: Social Media. We are surrounded by an overload of mostly irrelevant information and “selfies”.

Sometimes there are a few amongst ourselves that realize that this is getting just too ridiculous right now. But do we do anything about it? NO. We use the same thing we try to rebel against to tell others that we are actually against it. Almost like the example Postman gives of a woman who tried to persuade others to stop watching television, by putting a bulletin up on television.. “Mrs Babcock hopes that by watching television, people will learn that they ought to stop watching television”… Ironic, isn’t it?


“What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrevelance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies, the orgy porgy, and the centrifugal bumblepuppy.

Brave New World: ” [they] failed to take into account man’s almost infinite appetite for distractions“.

In 1984, Huxley [Orwell?] added, people are controlled by inflicting pain. In Brave New World, they are controlled by inflicting pleasure. In short, Orwell feared that what we hate will ruin us. Huxley feared that what we love will ruin us.


Postman concludes that Huxley has been more right in his fears. Postman concludes: “In the Huxleyan prophecy, Big Brother does not watch us, by his choice. We watch him, by ours. “

And within Social Media, it is not some capitalist government that forced this on us, but ourselves. We are the only ones to blame.


How to resolve this? Postman: ” In the first place, not everyone believes a cure is needed, and in the second, there probably isn’t any.

No matter how hard you try to fight it, you will lose. So I say – embrace it. Use it to empower!


About dada4nonsense

I am a 23 year old (at heart) who loves anything nonsensical

Posted on May 14, 2014, in Notes and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on Amusing Ourselves to Death.

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