In the first chapter of Neil Postman’s “Technopoly,” Postman uses references from one of Plato’s written stories known as Phaedrus, in order to prove an important point. Postman uses the reference of a character named Thamus who is the king of a city in Upper Egypt. Theauth is a Greek god who is the inventor of many things such as calculation and astronomy. Postman focuses on one specific creation, writing. Throughout the essay, Postman analyzes and constantly refers back to the Judgement of Thamus and his perception of writing. Thamus’ judgement was that he believed writing would be a burden to society and nothing more than a burden. Postman uses different examples such as Sigmund Freud, Henry Innis, Galileo, Marshall McLuhan, Karl Marx, and many other works to prove that Thamus’ judgement of the creation of writing was not entirely true but also not entirely false. Postman believes that Writing, a form of technology, is indeed a burden but, it is not only a burden. Postman believes that writing or any form of technology does not have just one effect, it cannot be positive or negative, it must be both positive and negative in some ways. I admit that there are a good amount of valid points made throughout the essay but Postman’s main point is not revealed until the end of chapter one. Postman says at the end of chapter one that new technologies alter everything about people; It alters our areas of interests, our language, and our sense of community. Technology changes and controls what we do, what think about, and the way we speak. Postman ends the chapter with introducing this movement that he calls “technopoly” and how people may be completely unaware of it, which is another main point of his.
After reading Postman’s essay and understanding his main points of technology controlling and altering our perception. I agree with the points that Postman is making throughout his essay. I believe that it is more than true that technology has the ability and the power to change, alter, or even trick us into thinking a certain way or behaving a certain way. I also believe that many people are completely unaware of the effects that technology has on them. As I read the essay, the points that Postman made were sort of a realization for my surroundings and me. For example, on pages 18 and 19 Postman talks about how the introduction of television into America changed the culture of our society. He writes, “The United States was not America plus television; television gave a new coloration to every political campaign, to every home. . .” Television has changed our perceptions of information and reality because it is our biggest form of media and communication. Television is our only way of knowing the social issues, political issues, and other issues happening in our society besides the internet. Since television is our only way of knowing these things, we are allowing this form of technology to manipulate our minds and the way we process our information. We are allowing the winners to “dazzle” us with the things that we think we would like to have or hear. This also leads into the movement of technology replacing the culture of orality or “tool-using” cultures. I believe that it obvious that technology is clearly altering and replacing our important and different aspects of our culture.
In the film “The Corporation,” produced and co-directed by Mark Akbar exposes and examines different aspects of capitalism and the corporate business environment such as the nature, impact, and evolution of the business. As the film began to explain, what a corporation is and what the purpose of the corporation is, it was a little surprising to me to realize just how cruel the corporate business can be. It was surprising for me to realize that a corporation is vital to a society because without it, society would be unsuccessful but without society, the corporation will surely fail. I realized that this statement is very true because society relies on the corporate business to produce the products that they buy and the corporate business relies on the people to buy into their products and technology in order for them to flourish. While reading “Technopoly,” I did see an abundance of similarities and connections to film “The Corporation.” One connection I made from Postman’s essay to Akbar’s film was on page 9 when Postman describes how the benefits and negativities of technology separate into two different categories: winners and losers. The winners are considered the people or businesses who are successful, who depend on the losers to make their own profit. The winners in “the corporation” would be the corporate business because the corporation is classified as an actual being, an actual person. The corporate business works hard to tell the people, their consumers, that they need the new and latest technology because it will make the things they do everyday such as writing checks, paying bills, and communicating with others much easier than if they did not have this specific technology. Postman says specifically that the winners “dazzle” the losers with all of these wondrous features that the technology can offer them. In return, the losers cannot say no because they feel like buying the technology will make them smarter or closer to being more of a winner. This happens every day in our current society. People feel like need the new and latest technology because they feel like it has the possibility to make them more successful and smarter.
Postman also describes the conspiracy theory that is occurring between the people who have control over a particular technology and gain power over the people who have limited access to the same technology or specialized knowledge. This relates to “The Corporation” because as I stated before the winners have an advantage over the losers. The winners have access to better and new technology and this means that they will use this technology to manipulate the losers, their consumers to believe that the things they are selling and saying are completely true. I believe that this is a very large part of our producer and consumer relationship in our current society. I also believe that this type of relationship is one of the main points that Neil Postman is continuing to make in his Essay.