Amusing Ourselves to Death

“The clearest way to see through a culture is to attend to its tools for conversation.”

Marshall McLuhan

I’ve plunged head-first into Neil Postman’s Amusing Ourselves to Death. While it’s far too early to glean any sort of revelation from the book, it’s easy to read the tea leaves of a great thinker, a prescient storyteller, and a prophetic educator.

The zenith of his first argument teeters from McLuhan’s quote above, intersecting with Native American smoke signals as an uncomplicated form of communication. Smoke cotton-balls ballooning into the sky could not contain sophisticated philosophies or debate; only raw, simple information.

It’s fascinating how similar network access is to that simple act, exchanging smoke for transluscent blossoms of radiation to convey our thoughts. We are, all of us, igniting the atmosphere with our collective rumination, tattooing the invisible skin of the world with fire.