Saturday, 16 August 2014

Robin Williams and Modern Life

I made a comment on Facebook the other day about how after all of us had been feeling sad over Robin Williams, now a water bottle was trending on Downton Abbey: someone had left a modern-day water bottle in a picture for the show, and this historical inaccuracy was now the latest thing among Facebook people. It felt wrong somehow, I said.

Not that I necessarily wanted to wallow in Robin Williams stories for a week, and I especially was not interested in details of his death. His hilarious comedy routines, yes, but not how he took his life. Even that, though, I wouldn't want to go on forever. I'm not sure what I would have wanted, actually. My girl-friend said it was just the contrast that bothered me: the death of a great comic juxtaposed with an unimportant mistake on a TV show.

Perhaps. Perhaps I just wanted a little space after Robin. But space is what the modern world doesn't give us. It was bad enough in the old days, when newspapers had to fill their pages with something, anything, but now it's all the social media all the time, bringing us information, games, jokes, quizzes, whatever.

A recent book talks about how we've lost boredom. There used to be a time when people could get bored, but now there's no chance of that: now every minute is filled somehow, at work, at play, everywhere. There are emails and Tweets and Facebook posts and I don't know what.

And the thing is, I don't particularly have a solution to any of this, nor do I particularly want someone to come up with one. Another aspect of modern life, perhaps, is that we complain about it. So there it is, my complaint. Though complaint sounds too harsh a word. A sigh perhaps, just a sigh. A sigh over I don't know what. Life.

One time not so long ago, Craig Ferguson, my favourite late night talk show host (now soon to depart, alas), received an email in his email-reading segment asking about the Jonas Brothers. Whatever happened to them, the email asked? And Craig just shrugged a bit and said, “Well ...”

Time passes, things move on, the current big story gives way to the next big story (or the next trivial story), and then ... well, who knows? We are but a moment's sunshine.

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