How To Kill The Conversation At That Next Tailgate Party

Wait until the gang is all here…all drinking…all having a good time. Then drop the conversation-killer: “Did you know 66% of all adults use Facebook and 16% use Twitter? And did you also know 92% of these users are 18-29?” Then as a quick chaser you might even add: “And do you realize 40% of Americans call themselves ‘very religious even though most of us don’t attend services regularly?”

What the hell was that!

That, my fellow captives of the 21st C, was one more example of why today we are unarguably more informed but arguably less engaged than most previous generations. Earlier generations had less media to engage them in the news-on-the-hour-every-hour, while today we’re asked to be engaged virtually all the time. And yet when neurologists from Northwestern University track the brain circuitry of their subject students they continue to conclude: “There is more data going in than can be efficiently processed and used coming out.”

The media have grown; our brains have not.

It’s not unlike darling but bewildered 2-year-old Emily surrounded by her Christmas toys. Watch her eyes pop as she reels from the extravagance of choices. But if you’re a parent, you know inevitably Emily will pick out the paper and ribbons. Why? Because they are the easiest and simplest to master.

That is what we usually find ourselves mastering in our current extravagance of media-ized facts & stats. We tend to gravitate toward the basic…the local…the stories which can be quickly broken down into manageable soundbites…and preferably those which confirm our in-the-first-place biases. Which is why virtually every news broadcast ends with a smiley 90 seconds of happy-talk. Some story to which we can attach our hearts as well as our heads.

Lets admit it. 21st C life is exciting, but it’s becoming more and more like final exam. You know, where you have to cram just to keep up. Please, too much! Once we’re safely out of school, that’s no way to live. And so most of us don’t. Helps keep us sane; helps keep the media masters very very happy.

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