The endless scroll of information snippets makes it easier than ever to know a very little about an awful lot.
“We pick topical, relevant bits from Facebook, Twitter or emailed news alerts, and then regurgitate them,” writes self-confessed “faker” Karl Taro Greenfeld in the New York Times.
“We have outsourced our opinions to this loop of data that will allow us to hold steady at a dinner party, though while you and I are ostensibly talking about The Grand Budapest Hotel, what we are actually doing, since neither of us has seen it, is comparing social media feeds.”
The overload of information, of points of view, may itself contribute to the willingness to bluff it, he reckons.
“Perhaps it is this fear of submersion that is behind this insistence that we’ve seen, we’ve read, we know. It’s a none-too-convincing assertion that we are still afloat. So here we are, desperately paddling, making observations about pop culture memes, because to admit that we’ve fallen behind, that we don’t know what anyone is talking about, that we have nothing to say about each passing blip on the screen, is to be dead.”
You could read Greenfeld’s essay in full, it’s good. But it is long. And that’s already more than enough for a dinner party.
See also: The triumph of bullshit jobs