The Distributed Water Cooler
I came in to work today expecting to hear a lot of chatter about the death of Osama Bin Laden. However, instead I find we’re just acknowledging the comments and jokes we’d already made on twitter and facebook the night before.
I already knew how most of the people that work around me had reacted, whether they were the sort to post:
- a stiff lipped disavowal of celebrating the death of another person while acknowledging that OBL was a horrid monster
- the most popular pic on reddit about the topic
- a retweet of a clever bon mot posted by a struggling comedian
- a resounding congrats to the troops who pulled off the mission (while pointedly avoiding mentioning the name of the President who ordered it.)
- one of the three jokes that simultaneously occurred to everyone else on earth when they heard the news
- jokes that combine whatever else you’re thinking about at the moment and osama bin laden
- somewhat redundant mocking of Donald Trump
- the second most popular pic on reddit about the topic
- huffy speculation on the coming spin from Limbaugh, Fox News and the like
- links to any of the above
We’re living in a world where every joke is an old joke.
Just ten years ago, on the day that started it all, we all sat transfixed by the images on the tv screen. I remember logging into metafilter and sharing thoughts and posting on my blog. I also remember going to this coffee house in Santa Cruz and talking about the events with people, both friends and strangers.
Now, I only had the TV on so I could hear if anything new happened while I posted on twitter and facebook and commented, liked and otherwise discussed the news. By the time I rolled into work, it was impossible to repeat a joke or anecdote you’d heard, because everyone else had already read it or retweeted it too.
It’s hard to appear clever, because if your thought is really that good, it’s already been tweeted a thousand times.