In which we discuss the thing about the internet sometimes

Posted on: July 28, 2012

So this is the thing about the internet sometimes :

I know, you’ve probably been thinking “man, it has been a long time since Porcelain and Porcupines* has been updated. Weeks, even. What’s the hold up? What could be so terribly involved?” Only now to discover that the issue is, in fact, the whole entire internet, and you realize “Wow, that is a pretty complex topic; I’m glad some time has been spent thinking about this. And, honestly, I am very much looking forward to having what exactly it is about the internet discussed, because it has been a bit tricky to nail down, I tell you what.”

And I also know, that sounds just like you. But the thing about the internet sometimes, it’s that sometimes, you wake up in the morning and you find yourself wondering whatever happened to Tevin Campbell?

For those of you who are, technically speaking, young enough that I’ve been old enough to babysit you your entire life, and yet still we know each other : Tevin Campbell was like the 1990 version of Justin Beiber. Only better, which I feel confident asserting even without ever having heard a single Justin Bieber song, because Tevin happened first, his hair was actually stylish (you know: for the time), and he worked with Prince who, regardless of how anyone might feel about him or his music, it must be acknowledged, is an insanely talented mother-f*cker. (That video is N entirely SFW, by the way).

So sometimes, in the morning, you wake up and, among the other things involved in beginning the day, you start to think about what music you’ll listen to on your way in to work, and Tevin Campbell pops into your head. Because it’s been the kind of week where you can talk all you want to, but the world still goes around and round, and even though it probably won’t, you can’t help but think that maybe a harmonic expression of insight from a 14 year-old might help you gear up to face another day of it. And so, as you search through your varied musical accoutrements, you take a moment to wonder : What ever happened to Tevin Campbell?

Which is where the internet comes into it. Because the internet obviously knows what happened to Tevin Campbell, either thanks to Tevin himself , someone representing him, or someone only tangentially related to him, which means that anyone, on anymorning, could invest less than 10 seconds and find out exactly what did happen to Tevin, and what he’s up to these days.

But this information is not strictly the provenance of the internet. In the days before the internet there still existed ways to research the formerly famous, or the still famous just less so, but these things – fan clubs, magazines, conventions, other – required far more effort on the part of the fan. To find out what happened to Tevin Campbell, you had to genuinely want to know what happened to Tevin Campbell, because time and money would be taken from you before you could find out. The ease of access to the information on the internet is what’s changed, that almost as soon as you wonder “What ever happened to Tevin Campbell?” you can get the answer to whatever happened to Tevin Campbell, without ever taking the time to consider whether or not you actually want to know.

And that’s the thing about the internet sometimes, is that it’s smudged up the line between wondering and wanting to know. Because, while I’m very happy to wonder about Tevin Campbell, or why soap always lathers white, or what this Higgs Boson business is all about, I don’t actually want to know any of those things; well, maybe the Higgs Boson thing a little bit, but only because it’s in the news so much right now and I feel a little bit of peer pressure there. But honestly, why things have mass doesn’t really interest me any more than the strange trend I see of people going for a run with a tiny backpack strapped to them.

The tiny backpack issue is one, like whatever happened to Tevin Campbell, that I simply want to wonder about; I am quite happy to spend a few moments pondering it, and then letting it recede back into the ether whence it came, and never, ever knowing what or why. There’s a very simple contentment in mystery sometimes, a contentment that can become difficult to maintain when the mystery is so easy to solve. And that’s the other thing about the internet sometimes, is that, if you just for a moment make the mistake of thinking that you want to know, and then you find out? Then you can’t wonder anymore, because you know.

*This is totally unrelated, but I just realized that I don’t have a clever internet sobriquet on this site. Do I need one?  Should I just be myself? That seems weird, for the internet. I don’t think I can do it.


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