I read Amusing Ourselves to Death in the fall of 2010. I wrote the following review and posted it on Goodreads.com back then. A friend of mine was discussing the idea that “the medium is the message” yesterday on his blog and it reminded me of this book. Here’s the 2010 review:
This is a fantastically stimulating book. I read it as someone who remembers what it was like before the internet was a part of our every day lives, but who now spends much of his work days and home life online. As Postman traces changes in our culture because of the pervasiveness of television, I tried to imagine what he would say now in the internet age. Many of his principles, I’m sure, carry over into today’s culture.
This book is a classic, well worth your time. It may be more relevant today than ever. I don’t think it is written at a level that is out of reach for most average readers. Recommended for those interested in cultural values, those who might be fed up with the internet or media in our culture, and conversely, those who can’t get enough media.
There are only a few books that truly anchor themselves into my psyche as guideposts for thinking and worldview. I’m sure that all of the books I read help shape how I’ll interpret the world in bits and pieces, but very few stick out as truly influential guides. For me, this book is one of those “guidepost” books. Postman’s analysis of how television has affected our culture was like a prophetic sermon for me, a child of the TV generation. As a parent raising a “digital native” Postman’s concepts about what is gained and what is lost when we adapt our way of life around new media only proves to be more stimulating and more important to consider. I can’t recommend this book highly enough.