Thursday, August 17, 2006

Disinformation Age

If you hang around long enough, things can get awfully surreal. Let's start with the word "static." You might initially think of that annoying static cling, or the shock you got when you were twelve and walked across your aunt's thick shag carpet and then touched the steel arm of her oh-so-posh recliner. You might think of the noise that you get on the car radio when you can't find anything with your digital tuner. My mind always picks up on the phrase "static IP" - meaning computers and their peripherals that are assigned a number that never changes. Whether it's a shock or white noise or an address, it's all static.
Which brings me to this morning. As I am counting down the days to the new school year, I have found myself waking up early, but not wanting to leave my bed. So I have been watching more TV from the relative comfort of my bed. Here I am treated to a lasting monument to the events of September 11, 2001: The On-Screen Crawl. This technology existed for decades before. I have hazy memories of watching severe weather warnings drifting across the bottom of "Match Game" as thunderstorms prepared to disrupt a quiet summer day. I learned not to rely on this information, since I understood that if something really important were to happen, Bob Palmer would appear and tell me just how bad things really were. If things had really gone to hell, Walter Cronkite would have to break the news to me.
Not anymore. I've got news, weather and sports flying by at the bottom of the screen, taxing my Evelyn Wood skills. I've got graphs, charts and statistics on the right showing me the latest trends or updates, and tucked somewhere in the upper left hand corner is a picture with another caption telling me about the most pressing of the dire events of the day. And all of this starts to sound like static - because it's not. I'm being told at the same moment that there is a suspect in the Jon Benet Ramsey murder while a voice underneath is providing analysis that suggests that maybe this isn't the guy after all while in Sacramento the skies are clear and there is a backup on the 580 Toll Plaza while Jennifer Anniston denies that she and Vince Vaughan are engaged. Noise, noise, noise. Moving noise. Noise that moves fast. Try and keep up, I dare you. I'll be in bed. With the TV off.

1 comment:

Cuzzin Chris said...

I saw this and thought of you: