Saturday, June 4, 2016

The Dizzinformation Age

Dizzinformation. Perfect. It seems so obvious in retrospect. Like one of those commercials for a product someone thought up that instantly provokes a now why didn't I think of that? response.

See, I've been in search of this word for a while now, and I was stuck on disinformation, which just doesn't do it. We're told, and I agree, that this is the Information Age and that this is an RBFD (real big, um, freakin' deal). It's on par with the industrial revolution, the invention of the printing press, agriculture, that sort of thing. World-changing stuff.

As I've written before, the Information Age has a huge, honking downside -- information overload. So, for a couple of weeks now I've been trying to think of a word, or if necessary invent one, that captures that no matter how hard I try to swim to shore I never seem to be able to get out of the Information Ocean feeling.

Wouldn't it be nice to lay on the beach for awhile? Better yet, stretch out on a lounge chair of some sort, with a cupholder, sipping from a tall glass of certainty/purpose/direction.

Dizzinformation. See, disinformation doesn't work because to me at least, it means incorrect information, sometimes, no, often, deliberately incorrect and designed to deliberately confuse/manipulate/deceive. Also, information that was thought to be correct but turns out not to be, such as the fact that we will not necessarily die next week if we eat some eggs this week. Well, at least not until the results of a major/minor study by a reputable this, that, or the other sneaks up and taps us on the shoulder while we're multitasking our butts off.

I define dizzinformation syndrome as, simply, dizzy from too much information -- correct, incorrect, or, worst of all, contradictory. It's not primarily because there's so much of it, there's always been a lot of it. It's because it's so easily accessible, and because installing effective filters is hard.

Information (and entertainment) access is well on it's way to becoming ubiquitous. It's only taken about 30 years or so to go from access and environmentally controlled computer rooms, staffed with people in white jackets, to the smartphone in your pocket that can access more information than you could ever possibly consume in multiple lifetimes. And the Dizzinformation Age is still in its infancy.

There are two sorts of information filters, self-installed ones and those installed by someone else.

[Aside: As to those installed by someone else, I'm not talking the security of allegedly/hopefully secure networks that are under constant attack by black hat geeklings whose motivations range from ideological to pathological. The only thing I have to say about that subject is that I believe property rights are fundamental if you prefer living in a modern, prosperous, civilized society. Without them, there wouldn't be any computer networks to attack while sitting in a comfortable chair.

Without property rights, the black hat geeklings -- the idealists, terrorists, or something inbetweenists -- would have to get out of their chairs and go break into a given facility and either steal as many scrolls as they could carry or set the place on fire. Is there a Regardless, here's hoping they don't come after me.]

Now, self-installed filters, if you believe in personal liberty, are clearly to be preferred over those installed by others. But there are, often difficult, choices to be made. If you're not a believer in personal liberty, or a bully, or a bully's victim (willingly/passively/genuinely, e.g., Putin's Russia), your choices range from limited to non-existent.

Personally, I think the latter scenario sucks sweaty socks, but it does simplify things.

On the other hand, life for those of us who prefer, and/or are fortunate enough to enjoy, personal liberty, choosing a personal filter is made all the more complicated by the diminished power of the external ones installed by someone else.

I refer here to the externally installed filters of consensus and convention, many of which our culture has discarded, or at least dramatically weakened. In the about me box on the homepage of my website, I make reference to the Great Fragmentation. I've never directly defined the term or written a specific column about the subject but it's a theme easily discernible throughout my work. We have become, obviously and remarkably quickly, a culture of people that have split into wildly different, and often hostile, factions.

[Wait a minute! (my designated gentlereader interrupts) this is America, we disagree about everything! It's the nature of the beast.]

Yup. But a minute ago we were all, at the very least pretending to agree, that a child born out of wedlock, fornication, porn, sex workers, anything LGBTIQ, abortion, masturbation, profanity, smoking weed, atheism, agnosticism -- deep breath -- and no shortage of other things were generally unacceptable. And, that callowyutes should be instructed accordingly. And, that to spank your child, when appropriate, was to do them a favor. And...

[Wait a minute!...]

Shush. I'm not positing approval/disapproval, I'm merely pointing out that we no longer have such a consensus, and that we've not replaced it with a new one.

TI + CR + (BS x PC) = ?

The too much information age +

A communications revolution (Is that a cell phone in your pocket or are you just glad to see me?) +

(A hyperventilating, ratings and profit-hungry, us v. them, news/media/infotainment business x PC)

= (Welcome to) the Dizzinformation Age.

Have an OK day.
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©2017 Mark Mehlmauer   (The Flyoverland Crank)