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Thursday, April 18, 2013

TMI

One thing the Boston terrorist attack has really driven home this week is the prevalence of "too much information" -- in both senses of the phrase. Maybe some people still watch the corporate evening news, when they're not fixing typewriters and fax machines. But I wager most of us, in this interactive world, get our information from news aggregators.

More often than not, that means subjecting ourselves to a toxic barrage of nonsense, a dynamic in which we're encouraged to commit and contribute our two cents, even if the actual opinion offered isn't worth that amount. Notions of intellectual honesty, or logical consistency and integrity, are completely disregarded, not even acknowledged.

This doesn't just apply to the usual retarded political sentiments, by the way -- the profusion of social media inanities is something that just a generation ago would not have been just technologically impossible, but conceptually impossible. The technologies, and the social mores that have cropped around them, have literally changed the way we think and perceive these interactions, in a way that, to someone born before, say, the mid-1980s, would have been truly inconceivable. The advancements in technology were foreseeable enough, it's the regression to the mean of basic interaction that would have been more difficult to prognosticate.

Or not. That other great '90s cultural phenomenon, The Jerry Springer Show and its innumerable bark-show brethren, presaged the now commonplace norm of televised human cockfighting. Anyone who might have not gotten the memo about some people being truly mean bastards, should have a clearer understanding now.

So it makes sense that, when you create a technology that even a moron can use, such as Twitter, that some portion of user will be straight-up unrepentant morons. People who are comfortable expressing vituperative opinions, unencumbered by the concern of whether anything they're saying is true or even coherent. (Yes, I'm aware that I drop a lot of f-bombs and insult people here, but I also actually do my homework on post subjects.) A terrorist incident occurs, and before the bodies have even cooled off, some numbskull wants to kill all Asians and Arabs:

This is what happens when siblings marry.

I mean, I guess I'm glad this asswipe decided to take a break from shotgunning Four Loko and date-raping sophomores, but still....Jesus. What the hell is wrong with these people, seriously? Now, I do hope that Mister Internet Tough Guy follow through on his promise to join the military, after receiving appropriate psychiatric evaluation. Even though so far the identified "persons of interest" in the Boston bombing appear to be white (though dark-complected; they may be Arab, they may also be Italian), even though the only person arrested or questioned for the ricin mailings is a fucking white guy, and an Elvis impersonator from Missuhsippuh, at that.

Perhaps they used a mix of Axe Body Spray and Monster as a chemical catalyst.
And again, we don't even know what we don't know about Paul Kevin Curtis. He may be innocent. Richard Jewell was innocent; didn't do him a whole lot of good. The guy who mailed anthrax immediately after 9/11 was a biodefense scientist for de eeeevil gubmint. (But not after yet another media-driven snipe hunt, where another innocent person got their life turned upside first.)

And uh, let's not forget Tim McVeigh, raised Catholic, registered Republican.

Obviously, this is the dark side of all that interactivity and interconnectivity. The media- and culture-driven urge to instant analysis and swift action has consequences. Fortunately, most of those consequences revolve around the above-noted simpletons venting their daddy issues at random issues that float through their transoms. But sometimes real people get hurt because people feel encouraged to act or react without bothering to think, or to corroborate one's toxic assumptions with, you know, evidence.

It is perfectly okay to voice the fact that North Korea is a fucked-up cult masquerading as an actual country, or that Islamism, as a political and cultural entity, bears many vicious characteristics, especially the violent subjugation of women. Those things are easy to research and corroborate from reliable resources; a chimp at a Starbucks can use the Wi-Fi and Google for maybe fifteen seconds before bumping into plenty of facts to verify either assertion.

But that takes work, the ability to read and process -- and most importantly, sift -- valuable information from random dross. There is simply too much information out there to process rapidly; the "drinking from a firehose" syndrome is all too true, and time, for some reason is of the essence. This eventually leads the stupid and the lazy, people with more free time than sense, to ensure their continued unemployability with some complete idiocy pulled kicking and screaming from their gaping assholes.

Let's say, just for the sake of argument, that the Boston bomber(s) turns out to be one or more people of "Arab" or Korean descent. Let's say, as with the 9/11 hijackers, they're from multiple Arab countries. For people who can read and/or think, this presents a multi-level problem, not the least of which is determining whether any actual government empowered, trained, and supplied such individuals, which would certainly be an act of war.

After all, if you're some knucklehead with a Twitter account and you rilly rilly need, like right fucking now, to vent your spleen to your followers, show them what a tough guy you think you are, how you alone among men are manly enough to turn an entire country into a "parking lot", whether or not they had anything to do with those three people dying, you don't have time to wait like some pussy for facts. Right? I mean, you're a man of action, and you have the Twitter account to prove it, muthafuckaz. Part those sucka emceez like tha Red Sea, yo, and make them all reckanize what you would fuckin' do, man, if you had the 'nads to join the Marines.

And that's the natural consequence of being swamped with so much information, is losing the capacity to differentiate what is useful from is toxic, or just plain stupid. Do I care what Justin Bieber did or didn't say about Anne Frank? He's 19 years old, Canadian, and (as far as I know) not Jewish. Seriously, he may not even know who Anne Frank was, and that's understandable. But it became a thing, as these non-things do, because there's enough media assholes out there that would rather retweet imaginary conflicts than, say, give you the inside skinny on how you're going to be living on cat food when you're old, because the bloodsuckers on Wall Street just aren't wealthy enough.

I dunno. I suppose we have to tell ourselves that the goofballs are the outliers, that the majority are still mostly sane, and do not feel compelled to blurt things on their Twitter feeds that would get them slapped by their grandparents. In the meantime, perhaps we should consider starting a fund to send the knuckledraggiest of these fucktards down to the local clinic to get fixed, so they don't pollute the gene pool any more than they already have.

2 comments:

Sean Riley said...

Remember DEVO? Remember a song they did called "Too Much Paranoias"? It could just as easily have been called "Too Much Informations". Drinking from a firehose obviously causes brain-rot as well as tooth decay...

Heywood J. said...

Depends on what they're drinking, I guess....