Rick Wamre: 24-7 information means constant conversation

But is anybody listening?

To me, August once was one of the greatest months of the year.

It’s a hot month here in Texas. Parents and kids are restless from the summer break. And if there’s ever a time when our roads are slightly less congested, it’s this month — vacations and lack of energy seem to keep more people off the highways.

So it would seem like a good time to relax, wouldn’t it? A good time to recharge the batteries, to consider the future.

Yet one of the oddities of life today is that rest and recharging aren’t possible anymore.

Sure, we can take vacations and set aside “me” time and ensure that we’re getting our fair share of sleep.

But right there next to us every step of the way is the rest of the world, waiting to beep and chime its way into our heads.

I’ve read about people stepping back from social media, shutting off their phones and communicating the old-school way with their voices. But I’ve never met any of them. No matter where I go these days, people remain plugged in, so much so that it’s becoming fairly standard for new restaurants to add electrical outlets and USB charger plugs to every table.

Of course, what they’re really doing is waving the white flag as a digital surrender to lunch and dinner conversation, what with the TV right above each table, too.

There’s nothing wrong with being constantly aware of every commentator’s thoughts about what’s happening in Washington, and the latest on LeBron James, and those multi-step paths to accomplish this and that.

It’s a diversion from regular life, but it’s a tiring way to live. It seems the more we think we know, the more opinionated we become. And the more opinions we have, the more some of us are emboldened to let everyone else know what we’re thinking. And the more we do that, the more obvious it becomes that a lot of us are pretty clueless about the relative importance of listening to others as opposed to shouting them down.

It has become virtually impossible to have a discussion with anyone these days for the purposes of exploring new facts and pondering new ideas. There is so much knowledge at our fingertips every moment of the day, much of it skewed in the general direction we already prefer, that there’s little new anyone else can bring to bear on a situation.

So some of us spend a lot of time talking loudly past each other, and the rest of us follow the conversation with a mixture of fright and awe.

August used to be a good month to flush the mind, a good time to disengage and mentally start over.

Not so much anymore. The lack of anything concrete to think about just means more screen time these days to reinforce what we already think we know.


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