We live in a world that’s dominated by technology. People can now access the news quicker than ever. Many may think that it is great that we can check the weather or a breaking news story in a matter of seconds. Others however are skeptic and believe that technology and the multimedia has negative effects on society. In Neil Postman's book, Amusing Ourselves to Death, he describes the consequences of living in a society that is dominated by television and the multimedia, however others may think differently.
Postman believes news on television is uninformative and only used for entertainment, however, Quayle and Grabowicz both believe the news on television is informative and is improving greatly. Postman and Kelly both believe that television is shortening our attention span and is taking over our lives. Postman believes that television is just a way to turn people bias on a subject. Mark Kelley wrote an article entitled An apology to the 4G Generation apologizing to society about how much technology has taken over and is shortening out attention spans.
Kelley opens up his article, “I really am sorry. The portable technology we’ve lured you into using…. have shrunk our attention spans so much that you probably can’t focus long enough to read this apology all at once” (Kelley, 2012). Kelley believes that society has a larger issue at hand other than television being bias. Postman believes that television is only at its best when it provides people with its so called “junk” and at its worst when it displays itself as a provider of important information.
He states, “The new focus on the image undermining traditional definitions of information, of news, and, to a large extent, of reality itself” (Postman, 74). Postman states, “And most of all, there is no subject of public interest – politics, news, education, religion, science, sports – that does not find its way to television. Which means that all public understanding of these subjects is shaped by the biases of television” (Postman, 78). Postman does not like the fact the society is moving away from reading a book or newspaper and leaning more towards television to do all of the storytelling. We are presented not only with fragmented news but news without context, without consequences, without value, and therefore with essential seriousness; that is to say, news as a pure entertainment” (Postman, 100). He believes that it is hard to take important news seriously when it is followed by information that will take away from the importance at hand. So many times you see a news story about a murder, a terrorist attack, our nation’s debt followed by a lighter topic such as what a celebrity was wearing to the Oscar’s or who is dating who.
The “junk” is more predominant than topics that are important to society as a whole. Even though Postman believes that television is taking over everyone’s lives, which it may be, that was more than 20 years ago and now society has bigger issues to worry about such as a cell phone or laptop. Countless times you see families out at dinner with cell phones and iPods at the table. When a child is acting up there is no more disciplining them, it is handled by giving them some sort of technology to keep them quiet. He also believes that technology is affecting out learning and communication.
Kelley believes that when you cannot pay attention for a couple of minutes that it affects how you learn, communicate, think, and write. He agrees with Postman about how television would lure people away from reading and shorten people’s attention span. He quotes Postman in stating, “people whose state of mind is somewhat analogous to that of the modern day baboon” (Kelley, 2012). Kelley is worried that society will have shorter attention spans as a whole if they let technology play a role in their everyday life.
He states that researchers are already finding deterioration in people’s attention span if they engage in electronic multitasking. Electronic technology has gotten so bad that, “There are now residential treatment centers for people who are so dependent on this technology that they can’t deny themselves the ‘pleasure’ of that adrenaline jolt, no matter where they are or who they’re with” (Kelley, 2012). He believes that there is hope for society to correct this issue before it gets out of hand. Correcting this issue will have to start by self-discipline.
He knows that everyone will go through “withdrawals” while they adjust to a life without technology. “Rebuilding your attention span will improve your thinking and learning and communication ability. It might improve your personal life” (Kelley, 2012). There are some people who do not believe that television and multimedia has a negative impact on society and actually help society has a whole. According to a study in 200, subjects ages 18 to 34 suffered from new fatigue. This means that these subjects want to learn what is going on in today’s world but they cannot comprehend all of the information the news is giving. Participants yearned for quality and in-depth reporting, but had difficulty immediately accessing such content” (Grabowicz, 2013). Grabowicz believes that teens want to know what is going on in the world today but have become dependent on background information and visual aides to help make the context more compelling. He believes that multimedia is a way to help people fully understand the news and information. “…Internet is an opportunity to experiment with multi-dimensional storytelling that provides context and depth and also is more compelling.
More and more today you see blogs people write about important news. Many people read these blogs to help them understand the topic more in-depth coming from someone their age or educational level rather than from printed text from a newspaper or magazine. “By dividing a story into topical segments in this way, different aspects of stories then can be told in different media formants – text, video, audio, photo slideshows, graphics – that are most appropriate to the specific topic, making storytelling more compelling and engaging” (Grabowicz, 2013).
Matt Qualye states, “I believe that the method of the medium of television news and production is in motion” (Quayle, 301). Quayle has the complete opposite view of technology rather than Postman. He believes that there is hope for public disclosure in the age of electronics. He goes to show that Postman may have been right about how television was only showing “junk” but he argues that that was back in 1984 when there were only three national televised networks.
He states that CNN is now a well valued source of global news that many people tune into on a daily basis. Times have changed and more and more nationally televised networks and showing presenting society with news. Quayle states, “Postman’s sample size was too small, and taken too prematurely, to accurately measure the pull potential of the medium [television]” (Quayle, 301). He fights the argument when he discusses that in 2009 a subject by the name of Warren Buffett was interviewed about the stock market.
This interview was aired on live television and view by millions and American citizens that had the ability to ask Mr. Buffett questions on the possible stack market crash. “The interactive nature of technology in television has to be factored in when looking at how TV news is discussed, studied, and viewed in context of its impact on the public discourse” (Quayle, 304). Quayle shows that technology has helped the society by getting news out faster rather than waiting on a paper to be thrown on your front step in the early morning.
Television and multimedia has its positives and negatives when it comes to how they deliver news. When it is all said and done it comes down to how you prefer to integrate the news in your life. Postman mentions a remark Robert MacNeil said, stating, news presentation “is to keep everything brief, not to strain the attention of anyone but instead to provide constant stimulation through variety, novelty, action, and movement. You are required…to pay attention to no concept, no character, and the problem for more than a few seconds at a time” (Postman, 105).