The year is 2012 and the technologically advancement now compared to previous centuries is remarkable; however, with that increase of technological advancement came a decrease of society’s intelligence. Neil Postman, author of “Future Schlock,” points out how mediocre American human intelligence is due to all the technology around us. According to Postman, America was once called “the empire of reason” because it was founded by intellectuals; Henry Steele Commager was the gentleman who coined this phrase, however, he was aptly referring to the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
Postman denotes an absolute truth, that mass media is diminishing human intelligence. The author calls human intelligence “among the most fragile things in nature. ” He’s referring to the fact that humans get distracted so easily. This can be seen on a daily basis where two people are having a conversation, one of their electronic devices goes off, and the conversation is suddenly non-existent. Recently Apple® released its latest achievement, the iPhone 5. Within the first 24 hours, the pre-orders for the phone were over two million.
The lines outside of the Apple® stores for this piece of metal were ridiculous. Among this generation, more and more of the youth are willing to stand in lines for “the latest” whatever, than to go out and do something that will actually make a difference, like voting. It’s a sad reality where tangible things rank higher than knowledge. Postman also says that Americans rely heavily on television “not only for their light entertainment but for their news, their weather, their politics, their religion, their history-all of which may be said to be their serious entertainment. He goes on to point out how news and politics are entertainment-oriented so Americans could not possibly get “any intelligent understanding of public affairs. ”
A perfect example of this would be The Onion, a popular news source, satirizes many serious public affairs. They make light of a situation through skits, jokes, and sarcasm. This news organization supposedly ‘informs” the public through humor, much of these topics too serious to become the “butt” of a joke. In late August, Cornell University began the process of installing along the sides of five bridges o prevent jumpers from dying. Not even a week later, The Onion writes a short article mocking the suicidal prevention attempts of the university. This article belittles and discourages the topic of helping students who contemplate ending their lives. This is just one of many examples of how few things are taken seriously in the news.
“Future Schlock” justly describes the state of America as a result of our technology. The people of today have the attention span of a squirrel, always searching for the “next big thing. People have forgotten how to communicate because they are constantly glued to their devices. Our motto should be “If it doesn’t make me laugh, it’s not worth my time. ” No one takes anything seriously anymore. Things that were once important, such as suicide, are now the punch-lines to ill-humored jokes. Postman definitely makes a valid point; at the rate Americans are going now, there will not be any scholars left in the world to teach future generations. After all, technology is increasingly taking over our minds.