Information Overload? No. Try Cheap Justification for Passive Behavior.

MSNBC: “Levy is all but helpless, he says, when new e-mail arrives. He feels obliged to open it. He is similarly hooked on the news, images and nonsense that spill out of the Internet. He is also a receiver and sometimes a transmitter of ‘surfer’s voice,’ the blanched prattling of someone on the phone while diddling around on the Web.”

Hey, Levy, I’ve got two words for you: pro-active life.

I’ve become increasingly bothered by the idea that people feel “helpless” in our present day. Just about the only thing that mystifies me more are the people who proclaim that they’re “bored.” Bored? How can you be bored with all the crazy shit going on? Depressed? Delighted? Lustful? Geeky? Hell yeah. But bored?

For the “helpless” sort, I’m not talking about folks who have specialized interests and exchange knowledge about particular topics. That much involves a pro-active discussion in which various people are trying to wrestle with pertinent information, often in collusion with each other (sort of like these lit blogs). I’m talking about the folks who are incapable of moving the rudder even a smidgen, the people who feel compelled to use outside variables as an excuse.

I couldn’t balance my checkbook because I was catching the last episode of Friends.

I went shopping but I forgot my list and I was overwhelmed by the choices.

I couldn’t get up this morning because I was too mesmerized by my girlfriend’s accessory.

It never occurs to this type of person that filtering out the nonsense and focusing on the important information may very well lead him to a personal evolution. Or not. But, at the very least, it will get the person closer to who he really is, even if it involves taking steps and falling flat on his ass.

Levy follows up his whining with the idea that “it is part of our birthright as human beings to have space and silence for our thoughts.”

Well, it’s also part of our birthright to make decisions, sometimes without the benefit of considerable rumination, and to try things. That means seriously considering that 3AM call from Phil about an impromptu road trip to Vegas. To me, one of the most horrifying ideas of existence is to remain in a year-long passive stupor. Perhaps Levy’s idea angers me because I used to be like this, and I had pretty horrendous parental models involving passive self-entitlement that took years for me to personally reprogram.

Today, I cannot understand how anyone could ever live like this, let alone someone like Levy, who, at 53, is too old to be intimidated by everyday existence when, in fact, he can set up spam filters or unplug altogether.


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