An Analysis of Postman on the Influence of the Internet

The Internet has grown exponentially in the past couple decades. It is now much bigger and full of more information and junk than anything Postman could have imagined it would be like when he wrote “Amusing Ourselves to Death.” He would view the Internet much like he viewed television. According to a biography done on him, “Postman was a humanist, who believed that “new technology can never substitute for human values”. Postman would be absolutely dumbfounded by the amount of time the average American spends online, just as he predicted we would spend more time watching television in his book. The time Americans spend online is time they could be spending quality time with their families, reading a book and actually learning something, or socializing with others face to face rather than making up a cyber version of one’s self and pretending to interact with other cyber people. With the amount of time people spend surfing the web, which can lead to addiction, and the overpowering problem with social networking sites, Postman would never approve of the Internet.

The average American spends two hours and nineteen minutes online each day according to a survey given by eMarketer. That would equal approximately fifteen hours and forty minutes per week, or over 845 hours per year. Postman would be appalled by this statistic. Not only is that is a lot of time to be spent doing something alone, but the more time spent online, the more tempting it is to want to spend time online.

The Internet is addictive.“ A new brain scan study shows not only can that be the case, but also that Internet addiction might cause the same brain changes that are seen in alcoholics and drug addicts,” according to Ryan Jaslow, a CBS News editor. If the Internet is just as addictive as cocaine, maybe it is time we re-think how we use it. In some cases, Internet addiction can have a negative affect on one’s emotions, decision-making skills, as well as self-control. People will go as far as failing out of college or even their marriage due to the long lasting affects and life choices they have made because their internet addiction.

These are the same kinds of affects people suffer from who are addicted to alcohol, heroin, marijuana, meth, and cocaine (Jaslow). Postman would never be on board with a “tool” that could be this harmful. As many as five to ten percent of all Internet users are uncontrollably addicted (Jaslow). Video-gamers are even more at risk due to the similarities of separating one’s self from real life shared by the two evil entities. 

There are reasons why the Internet can become so addictive. One is it’s readily available to just about anyone at any time they want. A computer isn’t even required anymore. Anyone with a smart phone or a tablet with Wi-Fi can connect within seconds. Now even televisions can connect to the World Wide Web; probably a whole new chapter Postman would have added to “Amusing Ourselves to Death.” The Internet started out as a database for informational use, but now it seems it has turned into an entertainment tool. It is full of the same kind of junk Postman wrote about in his book. At any point in time someone is bored, they can look up virtually anything they want for almost instant amusement. It is faster than reading a book, listening to the radio, or even watching television. There is no hassle with waiting for the next song or a commercial to finish, just type a key word or phrase in the search engine and the desired medium will appear.

It’s almost too easy.  Another aspect of the Internet that has exploded with popularity within the last decade is Social Networking. According to counts taken by, “Facebook” is the most popular social network worldwide, but there are many competitors. The other included in the top five include: “Twitter,” “LinkedIn,” “Google Plus+,” and “Pinterest.”

The function of these websites is to allow people to connect and interact with each other online, so they don’t have to see each other in person; sometimes ever. People post pictures and update their “statuses” which are supposed to represent their daily lives online, but what often happens is only the “best of the best” is ever broadcasted for the world to see. Some people will take multiple photos before picking the “best” one to post on their network. It has become a society trait to bash on a girl if she is caught wearing the same outfit in different pictures on “Facebook” at different occasions. Other people use social networks as a way to gain attention or be heard. They will make a ridiculous “tweet” or post an attractive photo just to see how many people will “like” or “favorite” it. Sometimes this is the only attention these people get because they have lost the value of being able to interact and grab people’s attention in positive ways in the real world. The more attention they get online, the more they crave it. This adds a whole new genre to Internet addiction.

Social networks are also addicting because they are large enough that people are always on them so there is always someone available to interact with. Sometimes people meet new people on these sites. The scary part of this is anyone can say anything online and there is no way of knowing if it is true. Some people have lost there interacting skills so severely that they have relationships based completely on interaction online with minimal, or even no contact with each other in the real world. The problem with this is they never truly know who the person is that they are in a relationship with. It is way too tempting to lie to someone who might seem “out of their league” in order for them to like them. Often times these lies get bigger and bigger, making the entire relationship a false reality. They have given this a term called “catfished.”

Postman would never approve of the Internet. It has turned into entertainment based completely off of artificial human interaction. There are worthy sites with minimal “junk”, just like there are acceptable television programs, but the Internet as a whole is a false reality, a drug, craved by anyone who has access.

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