Mr. Postman’s Thoughts on Technological Change

Besides money running the world, technology is the next thing that we all want to survive. All of these wants have been turned into needs. Technology is not a basic necessity to survive but it seems in this day and age, it is.

Neil Postman’s speech about “Five Things We Need to Know About Technological Change,” peers into technology by taking a step back and viewing it as a whole. At every angle, technology has major impacts. As Henry David Thoreau said, “All our inventions are but improved means to an unimproved end.”

Mr. Postman came up with 5 ideas to describe technology and what it has gained, destroyed and continues to be:

  • For every advantage that new technology offers, there is a corresponding disadvantage. The better the technology is with all of its unique facets, expect there to be a disadvantage that is just as great. In Mr. Postman’s words, “Culture always pays a price for technology.”


  • Mr. Postman’s second idea is that every new technology benefits some people, harms others and has no impact on some people at all. It only makes sense that the more information you have, the better off you will be. But sometimes having too much information can backfire and make you blind to what is really important. This is Mr. Postman’s philosophy on the Age of Information. Divorce, starvation, violence, mental illness and porn are increasing. If we are in an age where the answers are all in front of us, then why isn’t there any action taken after we find out these answers?


  • The 3rd idea can be complicated to understand. Mr. Postman believes that every technology has some type of philosophy or way it should be used. The way that the technology is perceived is the way we are going to use it. Often times a device has one specific component that makes it sell. Other components that are equally just as important are hidden from view because they are abstract. Even though these abstract qualities are intangible, it does not mean they do not have practical consequences.


  • For Mr. Postman’s 4th idea, he believes that a new medium is not an addition to something, it changes everything. When the television came to America, it gave new coloration to schools, political campaigns, households, church, and industries and so on. It became a staple in everyday lives. The change was ecological.


  • The final idea is that technology is mythic. Cars, planes, TV and movies all have mythic statuses because they are perceived as gifts of nature and not as artifacts or historical objects. Since these “things” are so common in our daily lives, they are looked at as God-given or a part of the natural order of things.


There is no doubt that we have made astonishing advancements in technology. However, too much of something is never a good thing. Technology is controlling humans. If we want to decrease social problems and use technology to help us, then we will have a better future. Unfortunately, we are approaching a new era where we are losing control and we are the only ones to blame.

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