“I learned something rather shocking today,” said my wife a few months back.
Since my wife has no governor on her meaning of the adjective “shocking,” I knew this could be anything from finding peaches on sale at Central Market for only one dollar per pound to the discovery that our yard man is Osama bin Laden’s twin brother.
“What’s that?” I asked……reluctantly.
“Andy Griffith is gay.”
“I don’t think you’re correct.”
“I just heard it on the news. He made an announcement about it today.”
“Well that’s a rather stunning deathbed confession….since he also died today.”
“Oh my gosh, he did? That’s awful.” Still not realizing her mistake she added, “He probably couldn’t handle the horrible comments he knew people would be making about him.”
Oftentimes I’ll let this go on awhile but since Andy Griffith was one of my heroes, I had to intervene.
“Andy Griffith was a happily married man who died today at the age of 86. You must be thinking of someone else.”
Later I was able to determine that she had blurred the news of Andy Griffith’s death with the coming out announcement that same day from CNN anchor Anderson Cooper. But by the time I was ready to help her see her error, she had already moved on to other inscrutable events of the day.
With apologies to my wife I have to confess that I do it too. It’s getting more and more difficult to keep straight this constant barrage of bullshit. News, information, entertainment, info-tainment, advertisements, editorials, advertorials, commercials, info-mercials, tutorials, announcements, bulletins, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, Vine. Holy shit, this stuff never ends.
I’m not talking about just hearing things wrong, like the time my daughter announced that her school was going to welcome a foreign exchange student. I cautioned my daughter to try to accept this person for who they are and not be judgmental. She shot me her best “whatever” look and I later realized I thought she had said “sex change” student.
No, this does not stem from my inability to listen which I wrote about here. This is far more sinister. There are over 500 channels on TV. Seventy two hours of video are uploaded on YouTube every single minute. Four billion hours of YouTube videos are watched every month. There are 750 tweets per second, 175 million tweets per day. Children born today will spend 25 percent of their lives looking at a screen. If I’m any indication, that number seems low.
The very real possibility of early onset Alzheimer’s notwithstanding, it has turned my mind to mush. My brain is like the security camera in a Wal-Mart parking lot- it erases itself every 30 minutes. Information goes in and it is gone in an instant. I can’t keep up with it all. In fact, once an item disappears from my Twitter timeline, I can’t be certain it ever existed to begin with.
It has completely ruined my priority filter. My brain now gives just as many cells to the lyrics of a song by the Rolling Stones as it does my kids’ birth dates, which means I’m not adept at remembering either one.
Everything is either “breaking news” or “best ever.” As a result I am unable to discriminate between the stuff that really matters and the stuff that doesn’t.
Is it fair to give a skateboarding bulldog the same attention as the conflict in Syria? I’ll spend 2 minutes watching a hamster eat a pretzel, but don’t bother me with understanding the sequester.
This can be dangerous, costly and embarrassing. Truly important information gets lost in the haze. Just the other day I tried to finance a 4 hour erection with a low interest, no money down loan. I watched 6 episodes of Hoarders and 12 hours of QVC and now I have 3000 “Buns of Steel” DVD’s and 490 Snuggie blankets in my garage. I’m about to begin a 21 day cleanse consuming only tomato juice and Cialis which means I won’t have time to help the Nigerian businessman move millions into his US bank account. I can’t remember the name of the Headmaster at my kids school so I just call him Duck Commander.
I indiscriminately jump from item to item without warning. So I’m sure you’ll forgive me if I cut this short. I have some breaking news to attend to. My wife just told me that Pope Benedict disappeared. Apparently he was swallowed by a sinkhole in Florida.