Neil Postman’s most popular work, Amusing Ourselves to Death (1985), provided an insightful critique of the effects of television on public discourse in America, arguing that television’s bias towards entertaining content trivializes serious issues and undermines the basis of democratic culture. Lance Strate, who earned his doctorate under Neil Postman and is one of the leading media ecology scholars of our time, re-examines Postman’s arguments, updating his analysis and critique for the twenty-first-century media environment that includes the expansion of television programming via cable and satellite as well as the Internet, the web, social media, and mobile technologies.
Integrating Postman’s arguments about television with his critique of technology in general, Strate considers the current state of journalism, politics, religion, and education in American culture. Strate also contextualizes Amusing Ourselves to Death through an examination of Postman’s life and career and the field of media ecology that Postman introduced. This is a book about our prospects for the future, which can only be based on the ways in which we think and talk about the present.