In books and stories, characters are always trying to remember someone’s name. I’ve used it myself. It adds that dose of realism, and it’s an instantly recognizable situation. What’s her name? the narrator wonders. Donna? Diana? Turns out to be Deena. So close.
Truthfully, in real life it happens more like that Seinfeld episode.
Jerry: What was her husband's name, again? Chip? Kip? Skip?
Jerry: Oh, right.
I'm going to go ahead and blame Todd. Todd is Chip or Skip because Todd is boring. It’s especially confusing in a room full of people you’re meeting for the first time, all the names and faces blend together. Shouldn't Todd help you out by distinguishing himself in some way?
It’s not just me. No one remembers anyone’s name. I refuse to believe we’re too self-centered to learn a new name and face. No, it’s something else.
I work with women in their fifties and sixties at Books & Books who count out the cash drawers from memory. They struggle with all the computer stuff the teens and twenty-somethings pick up like breathing, but they count change and bills without moving their lips. Meanwhile, take away a twenty-something’s pen, paper, and calculator while she counts a drawer and watch calamity ensue.
I think the Big Bang was a mass of everything, not just matter but all the intelligence, creativity, and abstract thought that would ever be, from the beginning of everything until the end of the whole mess. With each progressive generation, it gets diluted. Want proof? Read a book from just thirty years ago. There’s a command of language, a manner of expression which even our most lauded young writers lack.
Some would argue that’s the modern style, stripped down, bare bones, minimal prose. They’ll tell you that all the fancy words and flowery sentences in the world don’t necessarily translate to emotional power. To which I say. . . Billy Madison. Black Eyed Peas. Governor Schwarzenegger. The Da Vinci Code, train wreck television, and Hot Chicks with Douche Bags.
As long as the right people keep making money off of stupidity and ignorance, our culture will continue to manufacture idiocy. As long as we have cell phone coverage, cars, internet access, and televisions, no one will care. Devices will keep us entertained every second of every day. We will eliminate boredom and original thought.
But don’t worry about it. We’ll be too busy watching YouTube videos of celebrity meltdowns on our IPhones to care.