“One can hardly overestimate the damage that such juxtapositions do to our sense of the world as a serious place. The damage is especially massive to youthful viewers who depend so much on television for their clues as to how to respond to the world.”
Neil Postman: “No matter how grave any fragment of news may appear (for example, on the day I write a Marine Corps general has declared that nuclear was between the United States and Russia is inevitable), it will shortly be followed by a series of commercials that will, in an instant, defuse the import of the news, in fact render it largely banal. This is a key element in the structure of a news program and all by itself refutes any claim that television vews is designed as a serious form of public discourse. Imagine what you would think of me, and this book (blog posting), if I were to pause here, tell you that I will return to my discussion in a moment, and then proceed to write a few words in behalf of United Airlines or the Chase Manhattan Bank. You would rightly think that I had no respect for you and, certainly, no respect for the subject. And if I did this not once but several times in each chapter, you would think the whole enterprise unworthy of your attention…. We have become so accustomed to its discontinuities that we are no longer struck dumb, as any sane person would be, by a newscaster who having just reported that a nuclear was is inevitable goes on to say that he will be right back after this word from Burger King… One can hardly overestimate the damage that such juxtapositions do to our sense of the world as a serious place. The damage is especially massive to youthful viewers who depend so much on television for their clues as to how to respond to the world. In watching television news, they, more than any other segment of the audience, are drawn into an epistemology based on the assumption that all reports of cruelty and death are greatly exaggerated and, in any case, not to be taken seriously or responded to sanely.”
In writing this, I cannot help thinking how obsolescence has been built into most American products for the purpose of economic turnover. By contrast, my mind immediately goes to the Japanese and German cars whose odometers have for years have been created to register in the six figure range. If you take care of them (a little oil change), they last. If not, the result is a trivialization of the consumer product. Americans know this, and have largely stopped buying American cars. And since the object of human labor carries as intrinsic to it the value of the person making it, to trivialize the object is to trivialize and disrespect the subject. In the praxis, once an object is broken, there is no attempt to fix it. You get a new one. This leads inexorably to a general attitude of disrespect for things, people and God together with the exaltation of the unencumbered self as sufficient. Concomitant with this is a disrespect for all authority. As John Senior ("The Restoration of Catholic Culture") remarked with a bit of a sneer: "God knows, even a fish will swim a thousand miles and die of love, but an American will live in shame for the price of a television, stereo and an air-conditioned car. In the midst of a world on fire, with the smoke and stench of the slave-camps in our nostrils, we yearn for the cool relief of an indifferent ice, the slowly lengthening glaciers of the Coca Cola Archipelago, advancing in our freezing, loveless hearts."
 Neil Postman, “Amusing Ourselves to Death,” Vintage (1985) 104-105.