Read Neal Gabler’s essay in the Sunday New York Times before you jump on Facebook to tell friends what your cat had for dinner and how much you hate Mondays:
… If information was once grist for ideas, over the last decade it has become competition for them. We are like the farmer who has too much wheat to make flour. We are inundated with so much information that we wouldn’t have time to process it even if we wanted to, and most of us don’t want to…. The collection itself is exhausting: what each of our friends is doing at that particular moment and then the next moment and the next one; who Jennifer Aniston is dating right now; which video is going viral on YouTube this hour; what Princess Letizia or Kate Middleton is wearing that day.
Gabler, like curmudgeonly essayists before him, reminds readers that instant-information gadgets, rather than help generate discussion of new ideas, encourage us to jump into the steady stream of “informational effluvium” that “crowds out” provocative subjects and serious debate:
We have become information narcissists, so uninterested in anything outside ourselves and our friendship circles or in any tidbit we cannot share with those friends that if a Marx or a Nietzsche were suddenly to appear, blasting his ideas, no one would pay the slightest attention, certainly not the general media, which have learned to service our narcissism.
Hmm. So we live in an era that is not so much “post-Enlightenment” as “post-idea.” I’d like to think more about this, but I have to go on Facebook now. I promised to “like” somebody’s flash fiction.