Thoughts on TLTR

” … [W]ords have lost their meaning, there is no basis for anything beyond the moment of nihilistic expression of power – each moment.” Andy Hollinger

Light reading and coffee… the typical day.

In the space between my classes, I find myself stuck reading – a lot. I finished Daniel Wilson’s “Robogenesis” (his creepy-as-hell sequel to “Robopocalypse” – a.k.a “Reasons Why Self-Driving Cars are a Bad Idea”), I finished “Red Storm Rising” for the nth time, and between 80’s music marathons, I have been stuck trying to understand the organizational failures which led to the Challenger disaster and Chernobyl.

Words have lost their meaning, to a certain extent. Revisiting Blogmutt and Upwork, I have learned about article spinning, search engine optimization, and natural language generation. Topped with the commercialization of writing (Really? People pay to have academic papers and blogs written?), a sense of dread has descended upon me like an old Army-issue wool blanket – complete with poky bits of random discomfort.

Why bother writing?

For the most part, we have been inundated with too much information (“running through my brain… driving me insane”). Andy titles his best material “TLTR,” and for many, such work is exactly that: too long, and they don’t read. We cherry-pick the bits that support our views, then fling “false news” at that which contradicts us. Even though it is a very human trait, it is unfortunate in that we currently have the means to improve our own perspectives and broaden our minds. History often provides examples of what works and what doesn’t, while contemporary momentum shows that these lessons are readily repeated with the same surprise at the same results by everyone but those fascinated by the ugliness and beauty of the past. 

However, if you have ever had the opportunity to chat with me face-to-face, then you know one simple truth: I cannot stop observing and thinking. Words may have lost their meaning for the masses, but for me, they are the “because.” In watching and thinking, the urge to provide relevance to my internal monologue finds me sitting here… writing.

There’s a theme, here…

For me, writing’s power and responsibilities cannot be left to whither, much like cursive or the ability to do long division. When it comes down to it, the art of interpretation is as addictive as lifting weights for some and the piano for others – these things are simply there and we cannot stop from touching that which inspires us. 

Too long? Don’t read. Somebody will, and that’s okay by me. 



2 Replies to “Thoughts on TLTR”

  1. “Information Shopping” is indeed a problem, but there is an objective way to determine “fake news”, and it does exist. Conclusion-based thinking is as old as the first religious explanation for anything.

    Your article recognizes that words do have meaning, and I wholeheartedly agree. Writing is a muscle that atrophies with disuse; but so is logical consumption – reading with a critical eye. My take on the whole thing is best summed up by the quote from Asimov: “Anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.’” It is a false sense of democracy, enabled by poor education and veneration of the wrong things in society; a democratic notion of equality often used by a few to make their views seem like those of the many.

    This has only accelerated through the auspices of the internet. Pop historians like to point out that the internet is as important as the inventions of movable type, the telephone/telegraph, or mass media. They then gloss over the explosion of misuse of each to impose the will of a few by making their view seem more palatable by volume and repetition.

    And that is why technology doesn’t scare me as much as it does most people; I think that the possibility AI rising against us and destroying civilization is far less dangerous than the efforts of a dedicated few driving it into the ground for their own benefit. We, especially as a country, venerate people based mostly on their ability to accumulate and retain wealth. This is an idea far more dangerous than self-driving cars.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s taken a while for me to get back to this one, but I haven’t forgotten.
      “Writing is a muscle that atrophies with disuse; but so is logical consumption – reading with a critical eye.”
      Oy. You have an excellent point, and I would be silly to disagree with you on that. I can only control what *I* say and write, however. There are times when I am overpowered with the idea to shut down the digital fountain and just live life as I did prior to 1997 (the year I got a dial-up modem), and while I can also see the perspectives of your “pop historians” and their conundrum, I also take ownership in my efforts to not go down either well-worn paths.
      Technology, much like any other inanimate object, is a tool. We assign the parameters and purpose of those tools. WE are responsible for its benefits as well as the dangers. I have no problem with AI – it is the *people* responsible for creating the operating logic which worries me. Even a malevolent/benevolent AI such as Shirow’s “Gaia” from the manga (NOT the film adaptations) “Appleseed” would be bearable in how it provokes humankind to become better… Unfortunately, as we see with current technology like “smartphones,” we only have managed to dumb down society.


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