A thirty-four-year-old book catches my attention…

~Thursday~ At lunch time today, I went to the NC State Bookstores‘ Sidewalk Sale, and while I found it had been moved indoors, I serendipitously came upon the NCSU Libraries‘s Friends of the Library annual book sale in progress in the general vicinity.

A tent was set up for the book sale, and I walked in and through it, and on the last table I looked at, which held books classified as “Non-fiction Paperback,” I picked up a 34-year-old book entitled, Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television.

It’s described this way:

A total departure from previous writing about television, this book is the first ever to advocate that the medium is not reformable. Its problems are inherent in the technology itself and are so dangerous—to personal health and sanity, to the environment, and to democratic processes—that TV ought to be eliminated forever.”

For a dollar, I thought it might be interesting to hear arguments that might very well still hold today, and see if there are any predictions in it that might be good for a laugh.

I started reading it tonight, and at the very end of the first section of the first chapter, which is entitled The Belly of the Beast, I was struck by these sentences:

The population was being inundated with conflicting versions of increasingly complex events. People were giving up on understanding anything. The glut of information was dulling awareness, not aiding it. Overload. It encouraged passivity, not involvement.

Remember, this was thirty-four years ago—in 1978.

Add to whatever it was then, 1000+ cable channels, TV shows now online, and all of these digital information and entertainment resources:

Information overload, indeed. I wonder if it’ll be exponentially more so in 30 more years, or if a paradigm shift will come about to make it manageable.

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