It really is amazing how collectively short our attention spans are today, isn’t it?
I’m watching a documentary on Bill Watterson’s “Calvin & Hobbes” (which, by the by, is totally amazing and deep and pensive and beautiful and touching and hilarious all these years later). There is a lot of gushing about Bill’s brilliance – and some hand-wringing about his refusal to merchandize his characters – but more than that, there is a celebration of his art.
But one of the interviewees made this point, and it struck home to be in a way. Because I am a big fan of the digital world in a lot of ways. I like that small bands in someone’s garage could reach millions of people on YouTube, and that some writer in her attic can find readers across the globe, and that artists can get their work out so easily. But there is sort of a nostalgic, wistful remembrance for those days – the “water cooler” days, they say – when the public’s collective attention would get focused on something.
Those days when everyone talked about the big, shocking twist on MegaShow from the alphabet networks around the water cooler at work the next day.
When everyone from your Grandma to the little girl next-door knew what said topic of the week was and everyone had an opinion.
These days, we’ve all got such short attention spans and we’re constantly bombarded by so damn information all the time… it is no wonder that the big era-changing icons like “The Beatles” or the assassinations of the mid-to-late 60s (JFK, MLK) don’t seem to happen anymore. Sure, we had our 9/11, but one in nearly fifteen years? Seems pretty much a dearth of those types of events.
There are so many options (yay! …yay?) and choices and genres and niche markets and specialized this and atomized that… A few things still to stand out as ‘collective’ obsessions such as The Oscars and The Olympics and The Super Bowl, but even those are increasingly diminished as we don’t take them to our real life water coolers and neighborhood grill-outs, but rather, dissect them on Twitter or Facebook or Tumblr. We rehash and analyze and bitch and moan or celebrate AS THINGS HAPPEN and then before the digital ink is even dry, we’re on to the next item on the list.
I just find it sad.
I can’t explain it. Bad writer.
But there was a village-y aspect to it that I miss. I miss what I never really had. Perhaps it is really all just romanticized in my head – the good ol’ days – because everyone knows those days weren’t really great. Especially if you were a minority or anything non-straight-white-Christian.
Oh fuck it – I’m working on 3 hours sleep, after moving Mark’s mom, and a whole night of work is behind me. I’m going to switch to another documentary. I believe I’ll go with the “Firefly” one. It might make me cry.
Update: …I cried.
Note: Image is “Calvin T-Shirt” from http://www.thetshirtsociety.com