have you heard?

Posted: August 26, 2011 in Observations and Commentary
Tags: , , , ,

The interwebs, man they fill our little minds like tithers fill the coffers. They expand our lives in so many ways it would be futile to try to count ‘em. Just think of all the information floating around in the netherworld waiting to be snatched by our dancing fingertips, much like a wallflower sits glued to a rickety wooden chair silently waiting for a dance. Certainly a lot of stuff bouncing about out there reveals new depths of uselessness that even the stoniest of stoners can’t match. That’s not really the point. Regardless of its intrinsic value, great globs of data sit at the ready, accessible to whoever wants it. That’s amazing.

We also know lurking in the shadows of cyber culture is a darkness, a malicious presence with a simple mission: Do harm. This manifests itself in many forms. Nefarious viruses. Stolen identities. Fraud. Invasion of privacy. Perez Hilton. Why should we expect the interwebs to be immune from the classic battle between good and evil, the essential struggle which defines humanity? Evil will always try to ooze its way into the lives of those on the other side – the virtuous, the moderately noble, and the generally not that bad as long as they keep their beers to a minimum.

We learn and discover how to navigate between and betwixt the interwebs opposing forces. We’re prudent about not opening suspicious emails. We take care not to divulge sensitive information on questionable websites. We throw up firewalls and virus protection software. We don’t visit perezhilton.com. We heed the sound, practical advice shared since the interwebs exploded into the collective consciousness.

Yet for all the power of this marvelous technology, something’s been lost. Something valuable; something precious. I’m not talking about the erosion of social skills or the negative impact on brick and mortar retail businesses. I don’t mean the increased isolation among the disenfranchised or the government intrusion into our lives. Those are rough. But not as rough as the death of “Have you heard?”

Remember the heyday of “Have you heard?” It wasn’t all that long ago. “Have you heard?” played a central role in the lives of the news media, communities and individuals. Newspapers, radio and television basically made their living from “Have you heard?” They could because we hadn’t heard. No sir. We’d pick up the Times or switch on the telly to discover all these events that happened. Remarkable, intriguing and juicy episodes from every corner of the world!

Hearing about them was exciting, but racing to share them was exhilarating! Oh how we wanted to be the first to convey the big news, the big earth-shattering, you’re-not-going-to-believe-your-ears news! “Have you heard about the jewelry heist in Manhattan?” As the big news poured from our mouth adrenaline pumped through our veins like high-powered rocket fuel. “Have you heard who got busted in Hollywood?” Our friends stood rooted under our gossipy spell. “Have you heard what got cancelled?” Brothers and sisters, we were the Oracles of Information, the top of the pops! “Have you heard? Have you heard??” What a wonderful thread in the social fabric of life.

And then, faster and with more certainty than J-Lo ends relationships, the interwebs killed it.

Nowadays even media outlets can’t get news out before the great, teeming populace has Facebooked, Tweeted, Google+ed, Tagged, Yammered and Tumblred it into the amorphous cloud. These days to ask “Have you heard?” and be met with “No, I haven’t” is as unlikely as finding a watchable Madea movie. Thanks to the interwebs everyone possesses the ability to be on top of it all the time, much like Warren Beatty in Shampoo. Perhaps there’s value in that. Even so it’s important to pause a beat and pay homage to what’s been left in the dust. Sit with me then, won’t you, and take a moment to remember, reflect upon and give thanks to “Have you heard?” We may never see its likes again.

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