Remember a time when you didn't know everything? God, that was relaxing. I like not knowing s**t. I can't know everything -- I have finite room up in my brains to keep knowledge, and I don't want to risk losing my recipe for homemade barbecue sauce in favor of finding out that Sweden just made it legal to finger people on the bus. I'd like to know that finger thing, but not at the risk of losing anything else. But worse than the potential for losing the precious few things I'm sure of already is having my head jammed full of awful. And we can never, ever get away from that now.
In the 1970's, a gunman could open fire in a mid-sized suburban area, and the story might be a page six blurb in another city the next day. Today, it will be the number one story on every network, in every paper, for 24 hours a day, spanning at least five days. It will be analyzed ad nauseum, his picture will be on magazines, his family and friends will be scrutinized, his hobbies will be dissected, his mental state will be speculated upon, and at the end of the day (or week, in this case) he will be infamous. He will be a celebrity murderer.
There are two differences between the man in the 1970's and the man today. The first is how we disseminate news. Obviously, everything is nearly instantaneous today. People will have cell phone videos uploaded in minutes, there could be a live stream, tweets from Ground Zero, and so on. Back then, a reporter showed up a half hour after the cops.
The second major difference is that no one remembered the name of that guy in the 1970's. Hell, some papers probably didn't even report it. He was a nutter, this is what he did, and now here's a story about the San Diego Chicken. Today, and we've heard this 100 times, that guy is an inspiration to another mentally unstable person who feels like society screwed them and they deserve recognition. Now he knows he can get it. He can be on every TV and every computer screen. The guy in the '70s just went nuts. He had no notion of any fame hanging on it. He was ignorant of how big what he was doing could be, just like the rest of us who didn't know about every gruesome and perverse murder, every bizarre sex pervert who writes Internet comedy, and every time a gang of monkeys attacks an entire city on the other side of the world.
Now, you can ask yourself if it's good or bad to be ignorant of the general tone of the world. People like to look back and say, "Things were better back when," even though we've shown that's not true and the world wasn't better back in the day -- crime rates are going down, wages are going up, all that jazz. But maybe not knowing every time someone gets caught humping a horse is a good thing.
For more from Felix, check out The 4 Most Useless Pieces of Advice Everyone Believes and 4 Behaviors the Modern World Is Only Making Worse.