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Amusing Ourselves to Death


In 1985, a social critic named Neal Postman compared two famous dystopian visions of the future of America: “1984” by George Orwell and “Brave New World” by Aldous Huxley. Huxley and Orwell had very different theories about how people would lose their freedoms. Here’s what Postman said in the introduction to his book,“Amusing Ourselves to Death."

"What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, because there would be no one who wanted to read one.

Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism.

Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance.

Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture... As Huxley remarked in“Brave New World Revisited,” the civil libertarians and rationalists ever on the alert to oppose tyranny "failed to take into account man's almost infinite appetite for distractions.

In “1984,” people are controlled by inflicting pain. In“Brave New World,” they were controlled by inflicting pleasure.

Orwell feared that what we hate will ruin us. Huxley feared what we love will ruin us."

“My book,” Postman then concluded, “is about the possibility that Huxley was right, not Orwell.”

If you are wondering who was right, Orwell or Huxley, just consider Pokemon Go.

The game takes users outdoors to look for Pokemon. That's a good thing. But wait, all the players are still staring at computer screens. And they are oblivious to the world around them.

Postman warned that we were becoming a silly culture, addicted to distraction. Such a culture, he thought, would be easily taken captive by the inability to discern what’s truly important.

Look no further than the places people are now "playing" Pokemon Go; Arlington National Cemetery and the Holocaust Museum. Both institutions asked players last week to not search for Pokemon at these sites of remembrance.

The fact that it even needed to be said only affirms Postman’s prophecy. We American are most certainly "Amusing ourselves to death."


Thanks to John Stonestreet of the Colson Center for Biblical Worldview for inspiring this article. Read more and view some great resources here: Pokemon Go at the Holocaust Museum


Pokemon Go


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