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We all were warned it was going to happen; but we never really saw it coming. We upvotted it on reddit, we saw it on CNN. We read about it in the New York Times, watched it on the discovery channel, the science channel, the learning channel, and the history channel, discussed it at our book clubs, heard about it from Oprah, talked about it around the water cooler, but not a one of us realized it was going to be this bad. We had gorged ourselves with information, became so overfed with minutia so fat with data that we had no room left for wisdom.
The funny thing was that they were all right. The pundits, the policy wonks, the raving mad men, everyone got at least part of it right. What were the odds? It was as if we put it all on black, let it ride a thousand times, and won every single spin.
But we didn’t care. The bloggers raved about the falling dollar, the hippies urged us to save the owls, the scientists were pressured to ignore their own findings, and our leaders were busy padding there own pockets and having illicit gay sex in public bathrooms. We all played our own little tunes while Rome burned.
Maybe I am getting ahead of myself, The Fall was fast, but didn’t happen overnight. If you want the full story we need to rewind the clock a couple years. It was the mid aught’s, 2007 if I recall correctly. I started my day just like any other, rise at 6am to the sounds of NPR’s Morning Edition. I found the daily dose of depression that we called news back then a good way to start a day. I was an information junky, after Steve Inskeep tempted me from my slumber with tales of Bush’s latest idiocy, I plopped myself in front of my computer to start the daily information download.
First up the night’s emails, then switch tabs to Google reader for the couple hundred feeds I followed regularly, then a quick blast of several major news sites, news aggregators, and the comment feed from my own group of blogs. No matter how good the spam filters there was always some you had to weed out.
I followed everything, xkcd, techcrunch, boingboing, and a bevy of others sites and blogs. Had to know what was going on, had to stay on top of the latest iPhone news, got to see the latest funny flow chart, and just had to know what Jon Steward had to say about Iraq last night. God I was a schmuck.
I knew so much about so many things. I could tell you in detail about any of a million unimportant bits of info-detritus. I had opinions that I was not shy about blogging about, but couldn’t find a girl to spend the evening with.
I had read about the extinction of the Yangtze River dolphin that day. A species that’s only fault was that it couldn’t fuck fast enough to counteract the effects of our damns and pollution. The poor things were crushed by our progress. They were a small note in the massive information symphony. It didn’t even get mentioned on the nightly news. A whole species gone and we treated it like it was just another item in our news feeds, because in a very real way it was.
I had no idea that day would be the start of it all, no one knew, we were like blind men feeling an elephant we thought we knew what we were in for, but couldn’t see the big picture.