Is it possible to have too much information at your fingertips?
The question came to me as I was watching two sports analysts go at it on a debate show recently. The topic of conversation had to do with the best NBA player of all time. This isn’t something the vast majority of the population gives a flying Wallenda about, to be honest. But these guys deliberated until they had created a dually believable narrative, whittling it into a potent mash. Of course, well enough wasn’t left alone for very long, and as often happens inside this time of nonsense and instability, the shit went south. Further south than a Lynyrd Skynyrd Key West tour.
The succinct nature of their respective points soon gave way to a volatility whose pitch was a bitch, on wheels. And so the evaporative nature of modern discourse held sway until I stopped trying to figure out whose opinion was most valid and started wondering who was going to break out a “Yo mama!” first.
Of course, I recognize that information doesn’t fool people . . people fool people. But armed with enough information, anyone with half a brain can paint their argument into Van Gogh. And half the room will toast the bold and dramatic brushstrokes while the other half of the room reaches for a carving knife with which to cut off their ears.
The touchstone, regrettably, has been bastardized. As if Rob Zombie got hold of the Constitution and turned our fundamental principles into a kill count. Educated opinions have given way to a zealotry that seeks to deify even the most corrupt of men. Meaningful dialogue has been relegated to the ash heap thanks to dissociative politics that attempts to guilt us into confessing to crimes we didn’t commit.
What good is having all this information at our fingertips if we’re going to dis- it and mis- it into an interpretation?
During this sports debate, as the decibel levels increased, so to, did the tells; those easy to miss points of entry that had been glossed over initially were now much easier to hear. Both sides, using their information not as a map, but as a boxing glove with which to punch out their opponent. Much the same way a peaceful transfer of power might stage a coup, or a state might flout the concerns of a pandemic, or a city council might consider me the enemy because I’m an aging white dude.
I don’t know how we can possibly achieve a middle ground, because to quote Buffalo Springfield, nobody’s right if everybody’s wrong. And I have not a blessed answer residing under my cap, except for one.
Michael Jordan . . . duh.