September 21, 2013

Right on the Big Things: Reading "Present Shock"



I was reading this book, where the main argument is that we are overwhelmed in the eternal present by technology, and I didn’t like some of the author’s gloss readings on the culture.  For example, he said that Bevis and Butthead was more about the music videos, where I thought they were filler.  He claimed that the movie Forrest Gump “Attempted to  counteract the emerging discontinuity of the internet age” (29).  My problem is that Forrest Gump came out in 1994.  I can’t easily find the stats, but I have a feeling that most people weren’t on the internet in 1994.  People still had Windows 3.1 and maybe had CompuServe or AOL with hourly rates if that. 

It may be a small point, and one that might be forgivable for someone writing about the 90s a hundred years from now, but stuff like that makes the strength of the arguments about things you don’t know about evaporate.  I was mad, because the hypothesis is interesting and he’s a strong writer.  So I did what anyone else would do.  I found him on twitter and told him he was wrong and we had a short conversation that didn’t resolve my feelings.  Then I read the rest of the book from an angry angle.

And it wasn’t until I was done with the book that I realized that what I had done, contacting him on twitter and so forth , actually vindicated his hypothesis.  It is rough living here, in the desert of the real.