The Internet Is an Amnesia Machine
There was a time when I didn’t know what a Baby Yoda was. Then there was a time I couldn’t go online without reading about Baby Yoda. And now, Baby Yoda is a distant, shrugging memory. Soon there will be a generation of people who missed the whole thing and for whom Baby Yoda is as meaningless as it was for me a year ago.
A few weeks ago every tweet was about cakes that didn’t look like cakes. In 2015, there was that dress that no one knew the color of. Before that, people ate spoonfuls of cinnamon or poured buckets of ice over their heads. At one point everyone was talking about a sort of mini-webpage the New York Times made about an avalanche. There was the bitcoin spike of 2017. The Pokémon Go craze of 2016. Even the iPod obsession of the early 2000s. Remember those days? When everyone had a pair of wired white headphones and every second we weren’t forcing MP3s into our ears was a waste of our limited time on this mortal coil. Or when the Kindle was first released more than 10 years ago, and rows of commuters all seemed to be peering at an e-ink screen? These phases pass. Last time I went on the Tube (back when commuting every day was a thing we all did) there were no Kindles. There were no iPods. Just a smartphone in every hand in or in every pocket. Fingers flicking through Facebook and Instagram and Twitter. No one was searching for Snorlaxes anymore.
A few weeks ago every tweet was about cakes that didn’t look like cakes.
Even though we live through the rise and fall of these obsessions, looking back they seem quaint.
The word “craze” positions this phenomenon on the spectrum of sanity. When we are excited about the new iPhone or arguing with our friends about the color of a dress, have we gone temporarily insane? Is that the best way to describe those camped outside the Apple store in the rain? Or has there been something latent in humans throughout…