We Know Faster, But Do We Know More?

We eat weird. This was the conclusion of a USA Today article last week that documented how rarely Americans eat a full meal at traditional regular breakfast, lunch, dinner time windows. In fact, just 5% of Americans eat three square meals a day.

Evidently, whether it’s food or fact, calories or content, our consumption patterns are in lock step.

20 years ago, Ferris Bueller said “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” With respect, Ferris may have sang Danke Schoen, and borrowed a Ferrari, and impersonated Abe Froman (the Sausage King of Chicago), but he doesn’t know jack about fast.

20 years ago, we ingested information and calories in chunks, and at pre-ordained times that were so unassailable as to be practically Pavlovian. When going to “brunch” and starting your local newscast at 5pm are stepping out on the wild side, you know you’re living in a regimented society.

I remember quite clearly the day in 1997 when the Dallas Morning News became the very first newspaper to “scoop itself” by breaking the news on its website of Timothy McVeigh’s confession to the Oklahoma City bombings. I worked as the GM of a major TV station website at that point, so I was around breaking news constantly, and it was absolutely shocking that they didn’t hold the news for the next day’s print edition. Just 14 years later, we practically start tweeting BEFORE events happen, as our zeal to become the 140-character know-it-all, the Walter Cronkite for our personal tribe of hyper-aware oversharers is powerful indeed.

From a Lake to a River

Time windows are extinct. They no longer exist. Not for dining, nor dissemination. What was once a series of lakes has become a river.

Allegedly, we’re better informed, and certainly we get information more quickly. But there is a corresponding wane of investigative journalism (and even reporting) that has accompanied the extinction of the news cycle.

We know faster, but do we know more? Or is real-time knowledge just a bunch of empty calories?

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