24 hours, six TVs, one laptop, two radios…

24 March 2008

This is the age of the information overload. Gone is the top-down, one-way, take-it-or-leave-it hierarchy of the past. News, views and juice now bombards the reader, listener, viewer, surfer. Scores of voices plead, rant, shout to catch your attention as the dissemination of fact and opinion no longer remains the sole province of people with the rich and powerful. “Now all is out of control. Everyone with a computer is a potential pundit; anyone with a video camera can be on a screen.”

So, how does a lay news consumer cope with all the information that now rains upon him?

Gene Weingarten, a staff writer of The Washington Post, decided to check it out.

Like his father’s friend Boris, who undertook a daily pilgrimage to the public library and read every paper from start to finis, “with ecclesiastic solemnity, a quiet, dignified homage to the majesty of knowledge,” Weingarten sat alone in a room for almost 24 hours with six televisions, a laptop and two radios, listening to only political shows, pundits and blogs, sometimes monitoring four or five of them at the same time.

He survived to tell the tale of “cruel and usual punishment”.

“I’ll tell you it can be, but I cannot tell you how horrible it is. It rattles the very center of your being. If you care about the state of humankind, it fills you with despair. We are as a people bleak and hostile and suspicious, filled with senseless partisanship and willing to believe anything and everything about anyone. We are full of ourselves and we hate. And we do it 24-7. “

Read the full saga: Cruel and usual punishment

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