Joy and Regret

When I was your age, a writing teacher told me that everything funny is a little sad, and everything sad is a little bit funny. For some reason this keeps coming back to me as I think about your graduation. Maybe every joy carries a bit of regret.

~ Kristin van Ogtrop, “A Letter of Apology to a Son Graduating from College”, Time (April 24, 2017)

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Technology and Social Change

To be unaware that a technology comes equipped with a program for social change, to maintain that technology is neutral, to make the assumption that technology is always a friend to culture is, at this late hour, stupidity plain and simple. Moreover, we have seen enough by now to know that technological changes in our modes of communication are even more ideology-laden than changes in our modes of transportation. Introduce the alphabet to a culture and you change its cognitive habits, its social relations, its notions of community, history and religion. Introduce the printing press with movable type, and you do the same. Introduce speed-of-light transmission of images and you make a cultural revolution. Without a vote. Without polemics. Without guerilla resistance. Here is ideology, pure if not serene. Here is ideology without words, and all the more powerful for their absence. All that is required to make it stick is a population that devoutly believes in the inevitability of progress.

~ Neil Postman, Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business