“The first task of popular culture is to obliterate history.” -- Mr. Digital
While the pabulum platitudes of digital culture sell information and education as the keys to success and happiness, the truth is quite likely the opposite: Our lives are most defined by black-swan events, by the people and things we never see coming, by the people and things we least anticipate.
Turns out that ignorance is bliss for a reason: All this knowledge makes us miserable (and poor).
The sudden burst of the dot-com bubble, the attacks of 9/11 and the collapse of the housing and stock markets in 2008 are just a few macro-examples of black-swan events that no one saw coming. They are also examples of what popular culture is pushing hard to forget -- the sooner the better.
They’ve all evolved as media events in a media-driven culture, and like all media events, will be buried and forgotten to make room for really
important issues, like the Facebook IPO and the new iPhone.
No one really cares who said what or what promises were made on the campaign trail back in 2008, just as no one will remember who said what or what promises are made en route to the election this November. There simply is no accountability anywhere in popular culture, because popular culture has no need and no tolerance whatsoever for history.
Accountability is way too inconvenient, and history can only be sold at bargain-basement CPMs.
“We’ve run out of zeros.” -- Mr. Digital.
The tools of digital scale compel us to add three zeros to the national dialogue and debt every four or five years. Thanks to our digital tools of scale, the national dialogue and debt have evolved over the past generation from millions to billions and from billions to trillions. But now we’re in real trouble, now we’ve hit the wall because no one knows what comes after trillions.
“Memory in the digital age is entirely forgettable and utterly useless.” -- Mr. Digital
The past simply ain’t what it used to be. But then again, neither is the present. At the risk of sounding like the digital curmudgeon that I’ve surely become in recent years, all this digital technology is wrecking the joints and ruining my memory. Everything in my life is on speed dial, while my memory atrophies from neglect.
Who needs to remember anything when everything is just a Google away? And what happens when the memories between our ears take a back seat to the memories on our flash drives? What happens when experience no longer matters?