Curiously, it was exactly two years ago that I brought up the question of TMI: not Three Mile Island, the once-troubled nuclear-power facility in Pennsylvania, half of which, I hasten to remind you, is still operational, but Too Much Information, the cry of readers who wish they hadn't read what you, or I anyway, just said. Perhaps the traditionally crappy late-winter weather in this town just naturally brings such unsettling topics to the front of my mind, and this year's version is far crappier than usual: a week of dark, foreboding clouds and every conceivable variety of frozen precipitation. Besides, as everyone already knows, I farging hate winter.

This was the rhetorical question I was asking back in 2013:

[H]ow much information is Too Much Information? I'm sure if I've erred, it's on the side of Too Much, if only because few complain that I'm not telling enough. I'm thinking this might be a subconscious response to the utter shock some people express when they discover that while they're not interested in the Net, the Net is interested in them. (Actual interchange: "Why is there a picture of my house on the Internet?" "Um, it's Google Street View. They have a picture of everyone's house." "How can they do that?")

After pondering the matter for a few more moments, I have come up with what might be a Contributing Factor: the sheer volume of stuff I've shoved onto the Net in the last two decades might actually be enough to insure that if someone is bored enough to Google or Bing me — I mention Bing because I signed up for Bing Rewards, and I figure Google hardly needs my traffic — what that someone will see is more likely to be something I've written about me than something someone else has written about me. As a registered Democrat for the last forty years, appearances notwithstanding, I might say that I'm controlling the narrative.

I have previously justified this barrage of semi-personal information on the basis of completeness — the particular conceit of this site is that it's an unauthorized autobiography — intersecting with the fear of memory loss somewhere down the road. And these justifications still seem valid, maybe even more so, now that I've learned that Terry Pratchett, a mere five years my senior, was suffering from posterior cortical atrophy, a weird variation on the Alzheimer's theme that tends to strike at an earlier age. (Pratchett disclosed his diagnosis in 2007, when he was, um, fifty-nine, a number that tends to stand out to someone who's already sixty-one.) For the moment, he's as sharp as ever, but he can't convey that sharpness the way he used to: today he writes and edits via dictation, and he can't give speeches. I don't need to give speeches, but I've always had concerns about my voice: when asked if I might be considering doing a podcast, I replied that Click and Clack, the Tappet brothers, had claimed to have "faces made for radio," and that similarly, I had a voice designed for magazines.

Besides, I am constantly being reminded of my advancing age by various infirmities, and not always my infirmities either: it wasn't that long ago that Madonna, fifty-six, took a nasty fall onstage at the Brit Awards, and looking outside at the glazed-donut appearance of my front yard — crappy late-winter weather, remember? — I realize that the reason I didn't go out to fetch the newspaper yesterday was not so much the discouragingly low temperature but the very real possibility of faceplanting into the street. And unlike Madonna, I wouldn't have stagehands to help me back to an upright position.

Still, I persist, having been at least somewhat persuaded that there are a few people out there who are for some reason interested in what I have to say. (According to the not-always-reliable SiteMeter, a smidgen more than 2.6 million have come by in the past 18 years.) And I figure if they don't like what I'm spraying on the Net, well, they're under no obligation to keep reading it.

The Vent

  1 March 2015

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