One thing that I found interesting Postman’s book was the idea that since books and magazines have become plentiful, information out of context has become a normal part of our lives. Earlier in history, people knew about the things that were part of their everyday lives. A farmer in Kentucky had little knowledge of whales or icebergs–they were not part of his life’s context. But with the dawn of the information age, we are suddenly bombarded with all sorts of facts that we have no earthly use for. “Where people once sought information to manage the real contexts of their lives, now they had to invent contexts in which otherwise useless information might be put to some apparent use.” Thus the advent of the crossword puzzle, the television quiz show, and Trivial Pursuit. Those answer the question, “What can I do with all these disconnected facts?” Have you ever thought of how many of the things you learn are completely unrelated to your life and to each other?
I happen to be very attracted to “useless facts” so this was an eye-opener to me. I love to know all about all kinds of things, just because! It was curious to me to realize that once people really didn’t have the opportunity to fill their minds with all kinds of trivia, and now I wonder if that’s why I have such a poor memory for what I’m supposed to be doing. Perhaps all those disconnected tidbits have crowded out the daily stuff!