Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The pointless process of processing pointlessness

We are living in the information age. This is obvious. We can discover what is happening in real time if we know where to look, and even if we don’t know where to look, chances are we will discover it soon enough anyway. Then after much reflection on the matter we can come to the ultimate realization that we don’t really care. Process it and spit it out. Modernism!

For me personally, the way I find out about things has completely changed over the past few years. For example, I don’t really find out about anything directly anymore. Instead I will go on Twitter and read 20 jokes about something that happened, and I must deduce via context what has happened. If I cannot manage to uncover all the necessary details in my mind, I must a) scroll further down on Twitter for the original news from a viable news source (my ratio of people I follow on Twitter who make jokes about the news to those who report actual news is like 25-1), or b) Google it. Having to resort to option B is the modern equivalent of having to wait for the next day’s newspaper to arrive. I should also mention that I believe it is more important now than ever to be teaching children in school how to use context to gather information, if for no other reason than that they’ll be able to obtain all of their news solely from wisecracks on Twitter, or whatever new medium exists in 10 years. I believe the children are our future.

Indeed, I would say a great portion of my time is spent trying to decipher what has happened before realizing it is extremely irrelevant. The important part is that I am active in the discussion. When someone asks me 25 years from now, “Where were you when you found out Kim Kardashian was pregnant with Kanye West’s baby?” I will say, “I wish I didn’t remember, but I do. I was at my desk eating lunch when I read 50 jokes about it on Twitter, one after the other save for an intermittent update on a war in Syria. Whatever happened to that anyway? Not the war—the bastard child?”

It’s enough to make one think that maybe—just maybe—there’s too much needless information out there to process.

The other day I was standing in the kitchen eating from an absurdly large bag of kettle corn and staring into oblivion while my daughter watched an inane show on television. Not my proudest isolated parenting moment, but sue me—I was de-stressing. Anyway, I shook out of my blank stare long enough to redirect it to the back of the kettle corn bag. It was there I noticed the symbols for Facebook and Twitter and the phrase, “Follow us!”

And right then and there it dawned on me: I can follow this bag of kettle corn on Twitter. I was standing at the height of civilization.

So, did I go on Twitter and immediately begin following kettle corn? I’d rather not say. I will say, however, that I am intrigued about what they (it?) will add to the discussion. Also, what is the discussion? I am increasingly unsure, but whatever it is, I am not going to miss it.

I would like this picture to be the very first thing in our generation's time capsule.

Note: This column appears in the 1/17 issue of The Glendale Star and the 1/18 issue of the Peoria Times.

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