Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Information's a distraction

President Obama claims that "information becomes a distraction, a diversion, a form of entertainment, rather than a tool of empowerment, rather than the means of emancipation" in a commencement address to Hampton University.

He's right to draw attention to the flood that hits us 24-7 with the concern that we let our attention settle only briefly; and just on stuff that entertains. Many of us avoid engaging with the difficult and the challenging news.

It's the kind of analysis that Neil Postman made in "Amusing Ourselves to Death" where Postman said that the contemporary world was better reflected by Aldous Huxley's Brave New World, whose public was oppressed by their addiction to amusement, than by Orwell's 1984, where they were oppressed by state control.