Obsessive-Compulsive Information Disorder! Why not? In an age where every type of behavior, real or imagined, has an identity and someone the medical profession has decreed as having the ability to treat it, let’s name this behavior.
Those in search of information no longer have excuses. With laptops and iPhones, research is just a touch away. College-aged students man themselves with their laptops and cell phones much the way knights carried swords and shields in medieval times. No longer does any conversation tidbit go unchallenged. Google and Wikipedia and the like, have made it easy to do ‘real time’ information searches. Most statements end up current, obsolete, relevant, or irrelevant, and you better know in advance or you could be made to suffer social humiliation. Maybe at the next Presidential debate candidates will be allowed to use laptops to avoid looking like… politicians?
During the Christmas break my three boys all sat around (chilled) with their laptops and iPhones charged and ready. Casual conversation was no longer casual. I felt like I was trapped in a game show, uneasy about recalling even the simplest bit of information without absolute certainty. After voicing my displeasure over this pressure to converse, my youngest informed me that all the kids at his school use their laptops to argue. Remember when an argument was just an argument? Now it has become a full-fledged technological debate where only one answer is correct.
Even in sports we no longer leave anything to chance or the human eye. There are replays and red flag challenges. We as a society want to get it right! Whatever “it” is-
But how much fun is “right”? Senseless arguments once provided us with a way of bonding. Coming to absolutely no solution together was neutralizing if not harmonizing. Today’s arguments have become the proving grounds of non-stop debate over who can access the correct information the quickest. To the winner go the spoils! And to the losers? Well, laptop debating has become somewhat of a blood sport, crushing the egos of those lacking technological competencies.
Back in the day I blamed the pyramid-shaped gold-covered mansard roofs and red-lettered signs of Fotomat for our nation’s need for speed. The California-based Company and the originator of one-day photo development which was quickly made obsolete by one-hour photo development, introduced the country to “fast” back in 1965 when “Fotomates” (females) and “Fotomacs” (males) manned these small huts which usually popped-up in the parking lots of shopping plazas.
After America’s “need for speed” was exposed, fast-food restaurants popped up everywhere and our culture grew more impatient with those who couldn’t produce in a hurry. Package delivery companies can guarantee “next day delivery” and in the case of medicine and important legal documents, this service, though expensive, can be life-saving.
Back to conversation and college-aged adults- They have grown up in a world full of “speed”; computers, cell phones, fast food, Jiffy Lube, next day delivery, etc… Their world is FAST and getting faster! Such is the quote “That’s so 27 seconds ago-” But I worry it’s not all good. They’re impatient, stressed, and suffer from disorders only recently named. They’re forced to multitask just to keep up. If I could control the universe I’d slow it down. I’d give conversation a chance to get silly and unimportant again.
It could be that I’ve become irrelevant and will soon be obsolete, but I’ll hold on to my casual conversation filled with silly, unimportant details because it has always worked for me.