Are you drowning in a sea of meaningless words, gestures, and products? Is unfettered inanity driving you to the brink? Will you be rendered a catatonic, drooling, postmodern zombie by superfluous information?
Author Philip K. Dick coined the term “kipple” in his 1968 sci-fi novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? It is defined as “unwanted or useless objects” and is capable of reproducing on its own. Dick asserts in the book, via the character of Buster Friendly, that the earth will eventually succumb to an all-encompassing layer of kipple. The concept of kipple has been compared to the second law of thermodynamics, which is known as entropy (the degradation of all matter and energy in the universe to an ultimate state of inert uniformity). Try to imagine all of the junk currently occupying the world. I mean every useless tchochtke, every synthetic doodad, every single physical object that serves no discernable function or purpose. Now try to imagine this massive store of junk together in one place. Picture a veritable sea of refuse that will surely outlive us all.
The concept of kipple can also be applied to intangible objects, such as thoughts and ideas. Useless information abounds from Dog Patch to Medan. Consider all of the throwaway pop lyrics, trivia, jingles, catchphrases, slogans, clichés, gossip, sound bites, etc. littering one’s mind. What are the possible effects of this psychic kibble?
Let’s compare it to a recent phenomenon. It’s been proven that the increasingly faster edits now employed by various media (but originally generated by MTV programming) have drastically altered our attention spans. These super fast cuts have left us more impatient and craving a rapid pace that is not suitable for all situations (i.e. reading or any other activity that requires concentration). In effect, overzealous TV viewing has “trained” the viewer to expect immediate exposition.
Likewise for the glut of extraneous information. With so much useless information clouding your psyche, it is nearly impossible to make an informed and rational decision. We are lead to believe, by various sources, that every story has multiple explanations, whether or not that is the case. This information overload may eventually turn off the receiver to such a degree that they simply stop listening. With each person shutting down mentally at the introduction of more meaningless information, the populace becomes that much more apathetic, until you have a society best described as numb.
It’s not difficult to be an informed member of society in this day and age. Conversely, it’s rather shameful to be unaware of the goings on throughout the world. But I would make the argument that it is detrimental to be too informed, especially with all of that mental kipple floating around. Some issues should be fairly cut and dry. However, there is a tendency to spin some verbal alchemy and render certain realities into propaganda and vice versa. Take the theory of evolution; call me monumentally naïve, but up until recently, I was under the impression that everyone was on the same page regarding evolution. Surely even the most dogged believer can assimilate evolutionary theory with religious sentiment? Apparently not, as 51% of Americans reject the theory of evolution in favor of creationism. Because what’s more believable, the scientific process or one man and one woman materializing from the ether and rib (respectively), duking it out with god over a magic apple, and finally going on to people the world with inbreds? Don’t answer that, I might have to kill you.
There is little thought given to the outstanding effects that modern society and its ills may have on us. Will we be a race of mindless drones, only concerned with instant gratification and convenience, looking to the next distraction to ease our pulsing brains? Will vital ideas get lost in the shuffle of the constant stream of information we are now privy to? Will we be rendered vessels filled with whatever the powers that be please? This is most frightening. The notion that people may just give in is a very real one and likely to occur if this collective atrophy isn’t addressed right away.
Stacie Adams is an unassuming and introverted young woman with plans to take over the world and make it tolerable. Her heroes are few, but precious: Bill Hicks, Nat Turner, Orson Welles, and Hunter S. Thompson. She detests useless celebrity, bureaucracy, and unfettered stupidity. "I am disgustingly provincial and I’ve never stepped foot outside the US , but it is my dream to travel the world. My favorite beer is Red Stripe, my favorite movie Irreversible. I’ve seen Evil Dead 2 over 100 times. I am an encyclopedia of trivial facts and figures." She can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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