An explosive epiphany is what you feel when your curious wife, only few years your junior in the grand scale of things called life, ever so ambivalently invites a response to her pristinely harmless question. To put things in right context, it is only morally befitting to mention that this particular question was asked while and as a consequence of watching a movie about the internet juggernaut called Facebook, which my wife is incidentally a heavy user of. The movie, as I’m cautiously certain you have now accurately guessed, was “The social network”. The question, which I am certain and quite emphatically so that you haven’t guessed, was “What is Napster?”.
If you belong to my demography which I’ll leave unmentioned just for the fun of it and if you heard this question from a spouse or, for that matter, anybody not so spectacularly younger than you, you might empathize with my thoughts about the speed of technology and the volatility of it.
OK – let me de-bemuse you if you don’t yet follow the plot. Napster was the Facebook of my teenage years – it was cool and hip. My wife was not a teenager then, yet. It went out of business before she could notice it. If this logic is exaggerated, not too unfairly in my opinion, it is conceivable that in my lifetime, a much younger person might ask not “what is Napster” but “what is Facebook”; I’ll almost certainly be asked “what is Myspace”. The velocity, not mere existence, of change arrests my attention. A sigh of “in our times” usually and automatically must render the conversation as between people across generations. But not anymore – it turns out half a decade is now adequate for that sigh – for exclusivity of nostalgia. That is fascinating.
Tangentially, we absorb as much information in a week as our parents used to in a month, if not a year. That alone isn’t particularly disturbing until the involuntary-ness and irrelevance of this information to a positive life experience is considered. I’m not, or might not want to be, sure whether it is ironic or hypocritical that this post is suspiciously close to epitomizing such irrelevance.