In this here browser are ten open tabs, all brimming with information, and yet I cannot bring myself to read a one of 'em. Why? I experienced something similar the other day at the store when I stood there, anxiously trying to pick a toothpaste. There were so many that I felt paralyzed. What if the one I choose will be the wrong one? What does it mean to choose a wrong toothpaste? This sort of thing happens all the time when I read someone's blog. One post will have a few links and to the left or right will be a blogroll with at least fifty links to other blogs, and those blogs will have about the same amount of links to roughly the same blogs (maybe a few odd blogs here and there), all with hundreds of posts containing text interspered with links, asides, footnotes, and affixed with vaguely argumentative comments. Some (neoliberals?) would argue that this is a good thing, that the more choices we have, the better. But are we really presented with a diversity of choice? There are innumerable bloggers and basically all of them say the same thing, link to the same articles, get in a fuss over the same pseudo-outrage, have the same opinions, etc. They all grew up in the same general middle-class environment and live in this PR world. Much like the mainstream, established media they supposedly threaten.

I suppose this is what they call information fatigue. I remember several years back when I became interested in politics and began seeing things in political terms and I thought, Yes, excellent, I'm on my way to becoming a proper, well-informed adult. But slowly I became apathetic; I had the sneaking suspicion that everything I was being fed was crap. I went through the same thing as a child when I realized that God is just something people believe in to make themselves feel good. See, I grew up a strict Jehovah's Witness and my parents never bullshat me about Santa Claus, the tooth fairy, patriotism, etc. but this worked against them in my case because eventually I saw through everything they subscribed to as well.

When life gets me down, I turn on CNN. When the world is too bleak, I watch Fox News. I know I'll never see anything real on either of these channels. And why should I? Life is often disappointing and disappointment doesn't sell; it's not entertaining. Footage of the war, footage of someone getting shot, the spectacle of one talking head screaming at another, etc. are all carefully edited to be tantalizing and engrossing. I've seen unedited war footage and it's really depressing and troubling; I felt nauseated. But CNN war footage? It's awesome. Very moving, in that Spielbergian/talk radio kind of way. The military is right: there is no such thing as an anti-war movie.

My mother worked at a voting registration site last year. We've all heard about voting malfeasance, but my mother, the most apolitical person you'll ever meet (this particular job was just another job to her), saw this malfeasance first-hand. She told me about registration affidavits that were found in the trunks of election aids' cars, all unaccounted for, all Democratic, all on their way to be torn up or burned or shredded or whatever. She knew people who were getting paid to destroy any and all Democratic voting registration affidavits. I voted anyway, but the whole thing felt hollow. I vowed I'd never make the mistake of wasting my time doing that again.

Most would say that my general attitude is pessimistic or unnecessarily negative, but I disagree. I think we live in a world of public relations. Look at what happened with hurricane Katrina. Many people were shocked and appalled at the way the poor were treated in the aftermath, but any poor person knows it's just par for the course. This outrage showed me that even the most liberal among us buy into the notion that the U.S. is, ultimately, a just and great nation. When all is said and done, we're living good lives, we care, we have our degrees and careers, we love pop culture (read: we hate pretension), and we strive for equality. In sum: we're good people. I wasn't shocked at all with how the government responded to the situation in New Orleans; I was, however, surprised that so many people were outraged by it. Outraged at the outrage, if you will. This neglect has been going on forever, I imagine. And it will continue to go on. That is, until taking care of the poor creates a lot of wealth for someone, can be broadcast on TV within thirty minutes, and is generally light-hearted and fun. Even better if it confirms the neoliberal purview.