Wednesday, October 2, 2013

The Deluge and the Disillusion

by Amanda Taylor

It’s official; I’m quitting the interwebs.

Well, at least I’m quitting the news, on account of how much I hate it. My cranium aches from the incessant accosting of my poor sweet eyeballs with information about Syria, sumo wrestlers, Miley Cyrus, guns, Grand Theft Auto 5 sales, IPhones, Iran, the IRS, the NSA, Pelini, Miley, Pumpkin Spice lattes, Kardashians, little puppies, shootings, Miley, mental illness, fantasy football, tax evasion and beanie babies (yes, combine those two), Buzzfeed lists, rehab visits, and congressional posturing. I am so tired. And I think more dumber.

This proliferation of information overwhelms the senses and distorts reality, a deluge of chaos so tremendous that anything actually important is either dismissed immediately or covered so extensively that any pertinent details quickly become indistinguishable from the Forrest Gump bubba shrimp monologue. It’s all pineapple shrimp, lemon shrimp, coconut shrimp, pepper shrimp, shrimp stew, shrimp salad…

There was recently a devastating shooting at the Navy Yard in Washington – another shooting, another tragedy, more lives lost. But I already know too much. I know building 197 remains off limits, I know how many times Aaron Alexis cancelled or failed to show for appointments at the VA, how many times he filled or didn’t fill prescriptions, how many people he mentioned hearing voices to. I know he took a Beretta and with “no discernible pattern” wandered around the halls, hunting people, and ultimately murdering 12 innocent men and women.

Maybe I’m off base, but I don’t think I should know every detail of such a gruesome murder by semiautomatic. It’s painful, it’s horrible, and it’s discussed on the same page as low-cal breakfast recipes. I see “Visit the health section for a great low-cal egg-white torta to fight that belly fat!” in the same visual field as “A mother reacts to finding out her son is a cold-blooded murderer.” Wheat torta or Beretta; you choose, they’ll both impact you equally.

TOO much.

To better explain my exodus from the interwebs, here are some of the super important headlines that I came across trying to read the news recently. They are from several of the top news sources in America.

“Kate Moss to go full-frontal in ‘Playboy’” (Finally!)

“Harris says ‘expect no vomiting’ at Emmys” (Forget it, I’m not watching then.)

“How are olives stuffed? Ask USA Today!” (How are olives stuffed? And how have I lived this long without knowing?)

“Injuries on the rise from texting and walking” (I wish I had eyes for my eyes.)

“EVA’s ‘Hello Kitty jets’ take to the runways at LAX” (I just… I can’t… Here: it’s real.)

“Secrets of a Yacht Stewardess” (This turned out to be just a creepy article about a constipated-looking woman in an ascot.)

“Hot ‘Brady Bunch’ Hookups” (Greg and Marcia, Cindy and Bobby, even Jan and Marcia… thanks Fox News for this gem.)

“Pippi Longstocking’ actress Tami Erin changes mind, ready to release X-rated sex tape” (Surprise twist! Yep, this belongs in my sphere of knowledge. For sure.)

I hate how much I know, and how much I don’t know as a result. There are real issues at play that are overshadowed by my superior knowledge of Kate Middleton’s wardrobe. Literally. About three weeks ago I perused 278 photos of the history and present sensation that is her wardrobe. It ate up about two good hours at work. I also read a list about 15 celebrities that you didn’t know were black, learned Christina Aguilera got skinny again, heard Cher dissed Miley (but hate them both enough I managed not to learn details), and in an exciting turn, TJ Maxx is now going to let customers shop online! 

I know, too, that the House is gridlocking movement on the most recent Congressional budget approvals in an effort to repeal The Affordable Care Act, but what does that knowledge do for me as an average American citizen? (Ed. Note: This post was written before the government shutdown took effect, hooray for continued gridlock!) What’s the point of having this information about political posturing? 

There may be a point – in fact, I think there is, but I’m so lost in my distain for politics and politicians and the congressional genitalia everywhere that I can’t find that role as a citizen. What’s more, I’ve arrived at a place where I don’t want any more information, because none of it feels important, or contextualizes my place in society, or empowers me to participate in the world in a less reactionary way. The onslaught only serves to warp expectations, to assume that we are lifeless blobs waiting for more mindless information about dairy queen managers in Minnesota.

I’ve just finished reading the article about Dairy Queen manager Joey Prusak, tireless hero to our nation’s visually impaired.

I’m quitting the interwebs until further notice.

Amanda Taylor works in “community development” and no, she doesn’t know what that means either. Forever the critic. And enthusiast. Never one for dichotomies. Follow her on Twitter @tayloram03 if you’re not into receiving tweets.

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