So I’m sitting at home, mentally remaking the laundry list of things I should be doing while using my eyes to gently peruse my Netflix queue. I do these two things semi-simultaneously. Don’t ask me how simultaneity works in the brain. I’ve been asking myself the same. This multi- or more like non-tasking calls up inside me a sense of discomfiture. Free floating anxiety, except not intense or earth-shaking at all. I think maybe it’s time to give up Netflix. Why? Because it makes everything feel so distant. I haven’t turned on my TV for weeks, except for the odd sporting event I pretended to care about. (Bring back basketball, David Stern!) I’m lost in a world where everything is at my fingertips.
There used to be a time when people cared about Tuesdays because it’s when new music comes out. Maybe people still wait in anticipation. I don’t. New movies come out on Fridays, for the most part. Harry Potter premiered at midnight somewhere today. Or is that still tomorrow for me? People care. I’m not saying they don’t. But is it the same passion people once had for progress, for change? In a post-millenium world, I say it’s not. What did Palahniuk say? A copy of a copy of a copy? We don’t care because we actually care. We care because we have been told we’re supposed to. We are copies of what we have seen, of our past, and the way future generations “care” about premiers will be a copy of the way we have shown ourselves to care. Maybe I’m getting it wrong. And, yes, I’m just using this discomfiture to write about Baudrillard. I’m trying to get closer, but I still haven’t picked it back up.
This is getting sloppy. Let’s hit the Millennialism note and get out. What is Millennialism? It’s the idea that the world changes every so often. Possibly every thousand years. At some point, this morphed into the idea of the world ending at these points of change. So what happened? Prince wrote a song about 1999. “Could’ve sworn it was judgment day.” It wasn’t, obviously. But I remember that year. There was an excitement. No one knew what was going to happen. Something big. I swear Y2K was some kind of marketing scheme, but I don’t know/remember who got the payoff. And December 31st, 1999 came and went, and nothing happened. One year, nine months, and eleven days later, the World Trade Center was attacked by terrorists. And that was the big thing for the new millennium, for Americans. In the whole thing, we transferred our sense of urgency from us to the media. It was no longer, “What’s going to happen to us?” It became, “What are they going to tell us will happen next?”
Maybe it’s just me. Maybe I’m just a little cynical. Still, it no longer feels like the ownership of our immediacy belongs to us anymore. And if we gave it to the media, I guess they lost it somewhere along the way. I’m not sure if this is a bad thing. Do we need to base all our needs and priorities on the sense that some imagined deadline is coming? I guess not. But for an admitted procrastinator like myself, it sure helps.
A few weeks ago, Netflix had a handful of good TV series that wouldn’t be available for streaming after a certain date. It spurred me to watch things I’d been putting off. I wound up buying the DVDs for one of those series’ seasons. Now I’m watching it, and there’s no sense of urgency. Why am I feverishly pushing through these episodes? Because I’ve been trained to by the deadline set by Netflix. In a world where everything is at your fingertips, where we know any judgments made tomorrow are as transitory as the next sunset, where our priorities are what we make them…well, in that kind of world, we either have to do a lot of thinking or a lot of simulating. If you haven’t made a conscious decision since lunch? You guessed it, you’ve probably been following what’s trending more closely than you thought. Or didn’t think.