Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Information Overload

I’m a journalist in the information age, so you might call me a bit of a workaholic. You see, with the growing popularity of this Internet thing, it’s nearly impossible for me to glance at an article, watch a movie, listen to an album, read a book or fire up a video game without thinking of a way to respond to it, throw in some flashy language and slap my name on it for an audience that may or may not give a damn about what I have to say. It’s the curse of the digital soapbox—a need to assimilate information and self-brand it with a byline.

As a culture, we’re addicted to information, no matter how trivial, lewd or sensationalist it may be. Lindsay Lohan (gasp). Amy Winehouse (gasp). Miley Cyrus (gasp). In 2008, the American dollar may be flimsy, but bullshit remains the strongest currency of the realm. And we love it, don’t we? We flip on our computers each morning to watch the world turn and see celebrity lives unfold—and collapse—and it gets us through the day. But blogs (yes, I’m including this one in my criticism) don’t let the phenomenon end there. We’re compelled to spread the word in a global game of telephone whichever way we can. If you’re a writer, you might bang out a few snark-laden lines on a blog, where you're not subject to an editor, a fact checker or a legal team. We're free to write things like “panda bears are an excellent source of calcium.” It then becomes information that can be seen by anyone from anywhere in the world. And the addiction continues. Information, response. Information, response. The peddler becomes the addict. The addict, the peddler.

But, alas, I’m ranting. After I finished dinner, took a shower and reached into the fridge for a Sam Adams earlier this evening, the first place my mind wandered to was “what did I experience today that I want to write about?” I drew a blank. And this frustrated me. A quiet night at home was transformed into writer’s block—a phenomenon that infuriated me to no end. But why should it? I came to the conclusion that I’m addicted to regurgitating information, trying to put my own spin on what countless people across the globe already know as if it mattered.

But perhaps it does matter. If one person gets a chuckle out of something I’ve written or if they come across a story that they wouldn’t have seen otherwise, then I suppose I’ve done my job. That’s why I became a writer, after all. Maybe my addiction is to that very exchange of ideas, and not the narcissistic need to run my mouth.

There’s the information. What’s your response?

2 comments:

Andrew said...

James! Awesome, you need to rant more often. Because afterall whats a blog without a rant now and then?

une petite souris said...

All too true, my friend. More like this !!!