Like many people, I feel the overload when it comes to our modern information age. It’s a nonstop 24-7 ordeal with the news changing every minute and everyone from the leader of the free world to the goat farmer in Zimbabwe is able to weigh in on the day’s events.
If you try to stay informed, it kind of feels like you’re going down a never-ending set of rapids in a river with a raft that has a new leak every minute while you’re trying to dodge rocks thrown by petulant children looking at you to row improperly.
It’s enough to make you want to throw your hands up and say “I quit!”
By “quit” I mean quitting all of your social media accounts, throwing away your smartphone and only reading the newspaper (which I do recommend strongly, I need the work) or watching the news at 6 p.m. (which gets a high proportion of their story ideas from the newspapers).
But, I don’t quit, you don’t quit, hardly anyone quits.
Why don’t we?
Because we’d pretty much find ourselves out of connection with not only the media overload, but also many of the people who mean something to us.
How many of us now use Facebook to keep up with friends and family, or to share baby pictures or pay respects to the recently deceased? Most of us.
How many of us wind up learning what’s on our elected officials or favorite celebrity’s mind directly or indirectly by Twitter? Most of us again.
We may complain a lot about how there’s too much negativity, no privacy and corruption of the youth online today, but it’s a world we chose. You may say the solution is to “get rid of it” but that’s like saying you’re going to get rid of your house, it’s a lot easier to say and a lot harder to do.
Sure, the self-righteous blowhards, ignorant ideologues and attention-seeking trolls are annoying. But, at the same time, most of us like being able to weigh in on a topic even if we choose not to do it. Now, you’re probably not going to be heard by anyone of importance by voicing your opinion online. If you feel like going back through our archives to March 20, 2017, and read my story “Constituents call, lawmakers listen” you’ll learn that social media comments and emails are pretty ineffective compared to phone calls.
But, that doesn’t really matter, we like giving kudos or condemning lawmakers and others online, even if it really doesn’t influence their opinion. It gives one a voice, no matter how small and occasionally, you get an acknowledgement.
I’m not sure why we’re drawn to such fleeting things online like hashtivism and outrages of the day. Maybe they just reflect our attention span?
Which kind of leaves the question “have we made technology to fit our short attention spans or did our attention spans change to fit the technology?”
It’s a question worthy of mulling. After all, we evolved as hunter-gatherers and with the advent of agriculture and then industrialism we’re still made to do such, but no longer have the need to do so. Is the fast pace nature of our technology just filling in that gap in our brains that used to be geared toward catching prey or watching for danger? In some ways, they are very similar and in many, stir the same emotions.
But that’s just supposition on my part.
Anyway, there’s no going back to this supposedly “better” time that many people feel existed before. We’re connected to a big web and the future generations will be more so. That connection is now as big a part of nature as our cars, refrigerators and air conditioners now. Sure, you can live without them, but you’re often put at a disadvantage if that’s what you choose.
After all, it’s the technology that we adapt to now, not vice versa.
Plus, strip away all the annoyances and threats to privacy, I like having almost all the world’s knowledge accessible at my fingertips.