Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Are We Aware of The Influence Technology Has on us?

              In the essay "The Judgment of Thamus" by Neil Postman he discusses different opinions and ideas he and other writers had on technology. He begins the essay by introducing us to Thamus a character from Egyptian mythology, who is advising his exemplar Theuth, about the dangers of new technologies in their case the introduction of writing. According to Thamus “they will receive a quantity in information without proper instruction and in consequence be thought very knowledgeable when they are for the most part quite ignorant. And because they are filled with conceit of wisdom instead of real wisdom they will be a burden to society” (Postman 202). Thamus believes that writing will become only a burden, because it would make people forgetful and people who are not actually wise think that they are. This is where Postman agrees and disagrees with Thamus; Postman emphasizes that “technological innovations are not only one sided, Postman states “it is a mistake to suppose that any technological innovation has a one-sided effect. Every technology is both a burden and a blessing; not either or, but this and that” (Postman 201) Postman agrees with Thamus in the sense that new technologies bring on a burden, but disagrees with him because they also are a blessing. Postman argues that the wise ones are the ones who realize that new technological innovations are both burden and blessings and are not impressed by them. Postman introduces us to Freud, and Freud’s argument is that even though technology has helped us, it has also created problems that would not have been there otherwise, one of Freud’s arguments about scientific advances is that if it helps to keep people healthier and alive longer, what’s the point in that is if people’s lives are joyless and difficult. Postman claims that the common people are made to believe that technology is good for them and that it doesn't have consequences, that technology will make their lives much better but to what cost.  He states that “A new technology does not add or subtract something. It changes everything” (Postman 213). What he means by this is that new technologies change everything like culture, the way we learn and understand new things.

Response: connections

             In “The Art of Immersion: Fear of Fiction” by Frank Rose and in “The Judgment of Thamus” by Neil Postman, both authors discuss new technologies and their impact on society but both have different views on technology. In the essay by Rose he argues the effect new technologies that improve the ways stories are told have on the public, for example serialization in 1830’s England. Rose doesn't really argue the negative of new technologies like novels, T.V., and movies have on people. He claims that people want to be immersed in something that’s not real like fiction novels and movies; they don’t want authenticity they want to be sucked inside like Don Quixote. I think this is something Postman would disagree on, because during the entire essay he goes on about how we need to be careful on how much we consume new technologies and how we use them. Postman also argues that even though we are made to believe that technology is good for us and that it could only benefit us, he warns us that is only one side of the truth.


  1. Good post, but I don't understand how you see Rose and Postman disagreeing. I think they're saying the same thing. Look again.

  2. After talking about the essay in class with the group, I understand it better and see how they come to the same conclusion.