preview

Neil Postman 's An Internet Age Response

Decent Essays
Thirty years ago, Neil Postman argued that with TV, we are "amusing ourselves to death." More recently, in an Internet-age response to Postman, opposing author Steven Johnson argues that "everything bad is good for you," including video games, television, Internet, and film.
Neil Postman builds his argument by breaking down television into its component parts: photographs and the telegraph. He argues that both of these media inherently decontextualize their content. Photographs are inherently out of context. They can be nothing else. The content is photographed so that it can be viewed in a different context at a later time. Far from picturing a figure and its background, the photo combines both into one object. The context becomes content. Instead, words provide meaningful context to explain the pictures. This is why newspaper photographs have captions. The telegraph, TV 's other component, dislocates events from geography. It takes information from a context where it is pertinent, meaningful, and relevant and removes it to a location where it has little or no import. Only rarely will this information affect the daily life of the far-off reader. Thus, primarily it is simply interesting, but it is not relevant. It 's entertainment with an alias: News. By combining these irrelevant events with those context-less images, the television is inherently a decontextualizing agent itself. Try watching the television news without sound and imagine watching it without captions.
Get Access