Trump. Clinton. ISIS. DWS. MRAs. SJWs. Wikileaks. #BlackLivesMatter. #JeSuisWhoeverItIsThisTime. Cumberbatch’s weird-ass accent as Dr. Strange. Alex Jones and Cenk Uygur cutting a small-market wrestling promo. Instantaneous access to every single bit of pop-culture detritus clogging up my poor dumb brain, all at the click of a button.
As I did my usual morning routine of trawling the Internet for something to type about, that song popped into my head. It’s from 1987. The primitive inhabitants of that bygone era only thought they knew what information overload was. Back then there was CNN, but no MSNBC or Fox News. There were computers (“the Apple in young Steve’s eye”), but the Internet was nascent. Why, if you wanted to write a note to somebody, you had to put it down on a piece of paper with a stamp on it and wait for a government employee to hand-deliver it. Not only couldn’t you use your phone to take a picture, but you couldn’t even carry it around in your pocket without causing a scene. It was the Stone Ages.
And Tom Petty was reeling from the sensory input.
Now, less than 30 years later, it’s a million times worse. A billion, a trillion, a centillion. Human evolution has not prepared us for this.* We’re not supposed to have instant access to every single thing that happens in the world, and we don’t know what to do with it. We’re just not built to process all of it. We can’t adapt fast enough.
*Yes, I do believe in the survival of the fittest. That’s why I’m fine with global warming, if it even exists. Whatever happens, happens. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Or maybe it’s just me. Is it just me?
Of course, I’m part of the problem. What you’re reading right now is part of the problem. You’re part of the problem. I’m just a “content provider,” and you’re just a set of “eyeballs.” We’re both expected to have fully formed opinions on each and every global event, each and every second of each and every day. In 2016, you can be held accountable if you don’t tweet about something. Or at least if you don’t hop to it quickly enough to satisfy somebody who doesn’t like you.
And if anybody challenges you on any of it, they must be beaten in the head with a thigh bone while the rest of your tribe hoots and shrieks in victory.
The Internet and the 60/60/24/7 news cycle have driven everybody crazy. And I don’t see a way out of this asylum. There’s no going back. (Well, barring a global catastrophe, and it’s probably too late to start doomsday-prepping.) So it’s a matter of learning how to live in this rubber room. I’m just trying to get comfortable in my straitjacket and learning to type with my toes.
Okay, I’m done yelling at clouds. Now get the hell off my lawn.
Oh, before you go: Please tell Eddie Murphy you’re sorry, Tom. It’s not fair to blame him for Joe Piscopo.
P.S. Speaking of dinosaurs…
— Jim Treacher (@jtLOL) July 24, 2016