Tag Archives: Print

Print Made Us More Individualistic

A quote from The Hidden Power of Electronic Culture:

In a predominantly oral culture, one in which communication is based on face-to-face oral speech, there is no means for storing information or knowledge outside of the mind. As a result, once knowledge is obtained, the culture depends upon the community to both retain and repeat that knowledge. With the introduction of writing, people are affordedthe¬† luxury to learn and think in isolation without the threat of losing those thoughts. As writing becomes the dominant communication system, people no longer need the community to retain teachings, traditions, or identity. As a result, they spend greater amounts of time reflecting in private. This increased isolation creates a newempahsis on individualism. Prior to the written word, a person’s identity was completely bound to the tribe; the notion of the individual didn’t exist. Because writing introduced the notion of the autonomous self, printing obliterated tribal bonds and profoundly amplified individualism. -p.53

First of all I think that brief paragraph is brilliant insight into our culture as a whole. I don’t know all the implications it has for us but it does, at the least, make us aware of some of the steps that have created the individualism that exist within our society.

Now that we know where we are, and we are aware of how print has brought us there, I’m curious about how we can return to building tribal and communal bonds. Do they exist in any capacity in our current society? Is technology further separating us?