Friday, May 24, 2024

The Dizzinformation Age

Image by Sarah Richter from Pixabay

This weekly column consists of letters written to my perspicacious progeny  the Stickies — to advise 'em now and haunt them after I'm deleted.

Trigger Warning: This column is rated SSC-65: Sexy Seasoned Citizens   



Featuring {Dana}Persistent auditory hallucination and charming literary device

"Progress was alright. Only it went on too long." -James Thurber

Dear Stickies (and gentlereaders),  

I'm still in the South of France, still thinking about making a pilgrimage to the Louvre, and still recycling old columns — which was supposed to be easy but which once again has resulted in a major rewrite.

On impulse, I went rooting through old columns to discover the story behind my favorite word invention, dizzinformation. I went a-googlin' to see if it had gone viral while I wasn't paying attention. No such luck.

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 a RBFD (real big, um, feckin' deal). It's on par with the industrial revolution, the invention of the printing press, agriculture, that sort of thing. World-changing stuff.

[Speaking of dizzinformation/too much information I'll bet you've never heard of an interrobang, a character I've recently encountered that combines a question mark with an exclamation point I immediately pictured a much younger version of myself approaching a fellow H. sapien female who self-identifies as a cisgender straight or bisexual individual and asking her if she has ever heard of... Never mind.]

The Information Age has two huge, honkin' downsides — information overload and contradictory information. 

I spent months trying to think of just the right word, or 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 Dizzinformation Ocean feeling.

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

{What's wrong with misinformation?}

Misinformation, to me at least, just means incorrect information, information that was thought to be correct but turns out not to be.  

Dizzinformation is a new study by a reputable this, that, or the other that sneaks up and taps you on the shoulder and says wait just a second there sir/ma'am/other while you're busy multitasking your bum off, i.e. just trying to get through another day in the Dizzinformation Age.

For example, you're watching the local news and they do a story about eggs; eggs may not be as bad for you as you were led to believe. 

You love eggs! You could eat eggs every day and never get tired of them! 

You go a-googlin' because you want to know just how many eggs you can safely eat on a daily/weekly basis. Answer? I'll spare you any links to follow as I'll wager you already know what will happen, you'll get every answer from none at all to feel free to eat as many Paul Newman's character did in the movie Cool Hand Luke.

 {Wait-wait-wait. What about disinformation? Or is that the same thing as misinformation?

As it happens, Dana, I checked into this. According to Wikipedia "Misinformation is incorrect or misleading information. Misinformation can exist without specific malicious intent; disinformation is distinct in that it is deliberately deceptive and propagated." My emphasises.

I agree, but neither word comes close to describing what I'm talking about. The phrase too much information points you in the right direction but dizzinformation — dazed and confused by too much information — is perfect. 

The DSM-5-TR ("...the authoritative guide to the diagnosis of mental disorders.") defines dizzinformation syndrome as, simply, dizzy from too much information: correct, incorrect, or, worst of all, contradictory.

{No it doesn't!}

Well, it should. It's not primarily because there's so much information, there's always been a lot of it. It's because it's so easily accessible via the worldwide web of contradictory knowledge (WWCK).

{AI is going to fix that... You keep pushing this WWCK thing, what's up with that?}

I wanna go viral, just once, before I die. Dizzinformation didn't do it back in 2016, maybe WWCK will in 2024. And for the record, AI is not going to fix that. AI can punt (as it does now) and tell you that there are contradictory answers to your question, which effectively renders it useless as a search tool in my opinion.

Alternatively, it will make it possible for someone who has the kind of power China's current emperor has to return government-approved answers and many of our tech overlords will be happy to help if it adds to their bottom line (or promotes their ideology) as they do now. 

It's only been about 50 years since...

{Fifty years is a looong time.}

Almost everyone who's been walking around the block for fifty years or more will tend to disagree.  

It's taken about 50 years to go from environmentally controlled computer rooms, staffed with clipboard-carrying people in crisp, white lab coats, 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. 

Poppa loves you,
Have an OK day

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