Below is a response to a comment1 on a post I wrote about not reading the news2.
I think often about the debt technological advance creates for us and this exchange highlighted a few great points on that topic.
I can’t tell you how much I appreciate you sharing your thoughts. As you might have guessed, Postman’s work started my thinking on this subject years ago. I need to revisit his book—I agree that it is indeed prophetic.
“I mean to say that when news is packaged as entertainment, that is the inevitable result… Ignorance is always correctable. But what shall we do if we take ignorance to be knowledge?”
Fascinating. I’m sure you’re familiar with Marshal McLuhan’s proposition that “the medium is the message.” One of the most interesting elements of this entire conversation is how Postman’s and Lewis’ and McLuhan’s theories apply to the tools we use for communication today. The velocity of news stories traveling across Twitter, along with the limitations of the medium for robust communication, seems to be a rocket booster for the tragic outcome that Postman fears in the quote you referenced.
Your point about C.S. Lewis hit the nail on the head. Once society has deemed a certain philosophy as irrelevant, untrue, or simply distasteful, all proponents of that philosophy are thrown out with the bath water whether they have valuable things to say or not. Said more simply, opinion becomes the primary arbiter of people’s world views, which is absolutely frightening. Civil discourse has been gutted by both the popular media and the media through which its content travels.
I have a strong suspicion that you’d really enjoy reading a gentleman by the name of Michael Sacasas. As far as I can tell, he’s one of the only modern-day thinkers who’s actually thinking critically about the criticism of technology and the inevitable debt that technological progress imparts on society (and individuals). His blog is here: http://thefrailestthing.com/
Also of note is Adam Thierer. Though I’m still figuring out where I stand, I tend to lean more towards Sacasas’ standpoint. You can find Thierer here: http://techliberation.com/author/adam-thierer/
I think I will sleep better at night knowing that there is one more person who thinks about this as critically as I do.