Era of mass miscommunication

So, we’re nearing the end of 2009. By the end of 2010 it’ll be 10 years since all the hassle about the Y2K virus, remember all that? The terror that threatened to bring civilisation to a standstill because the ticking clock wouldn’t be able to handle the date ending with “00”.

Computers and technology back then were a contradiction. On the one hand, they were innocent compared to todays powerful behemoths. Slow chugging processors powered us through cyberspace, and hard drives were filled up by the presence of one or two games. Dial up internet gave particularly sinister access to the internet, I always thought it sounded like a character from Doctor Who being murdered in an air shaft. However, on the other hand, computers were endlessly more frustrating and jargon based than they are now. To us “normal” people, techies like to make computers deliberately complicated, in order to keep their kudos, and moreover, their jobs. Web 2.0 has democratised and de-cluttered the internet, to the extent that even an idiot like me can make an online magazine:

Of course, “social networking” “micro-blogging” and the rest of the idiot terms applied to Web 2.0 do come at a price. That is, it’s a lot like a lifetime membership. Once you’ve signed up, it’s very difficult to get away.

Take this example: I must be one of the only people in my age group to not watch The X Factor, judging by the endless Facebook updates. Opting out of watching the program isn’t enough anymore. One has to turn off all radios, computers, phones, and just about any other piece of technology that looks shiny enough to pick up a signal to get away from it all. Instead, idly minding my own business, I cheerfully click the “refresh” button on my browser. Suddenly I’m hit with a torrent of updates:

can’t actually believe that jedward are still in xfactor!!!!!”

“JEDWARD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! whhayyyyyyy” 

“hope lloyd goes!”

I remember fondly when my dad would coincide his bike rides with England’s efforts to progress through the World Cup. Time after time, the streets would be deserted as he joyfully cycled around in peace for 90 minutes. Whenever there was a penalty shoot out he got an added bonus. A few years ago, I could’ve been him. I could’ve turned off the television when Simon Cowell and his Will Smith circa ’91 haircut hove into view, and that would’ve been that. Now because I’ve signed up to a whole range of mailing lists, networks and websites, I have to turn all of those off aswell. “But that’s your fault!” you’re screaming at the screen. Yes, of course it is, but do people really have to tweet and exchange such bland information? If the technology is there for Alan Rusbridger to tweet about Trafigura and overturn an injunction, it’s a massive waste of resources if we’re using this to talk about deluded fools singing their hearts out with all the melody of an irate chimp.

Essentially the banter which was previously only privy to the seats at the back of the bus have been brought forward onto the internet. Meaningless chat and general idiocy dominate the feeds. I’d love it if people thought before typing a bit more, but what can I do about it? Simply watch the conversations unfold, and subscribe to the X Factor Twitter page…


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