I know exactly where I was when the OJ verdict was read (physics class) and when I heard about the planes crashing into the twin towers (at my desk, starting my day at my first job after college), but when someone said Michael Jackson's death would be a generational defining moment for people my age and asked me how I found out two days after his death I could not remember at all.
Either my memory is failing me (did I just date myself with the above admissions?), it does not ring true and despite our celebrity-obsessed culture this was actually not a major life moment, or the amount of media we now consume is diluting the 'defining moment'? effect that these collective, national, big events have on us.
I did finally remember - I was on the subway when the reports came out; when I emerged from my subterranean 20 minute commute home which so mercilessly cuts me off from the outside world I had a voicemail from my friend Skip and a text from someone else. I called Skip back, kept him on speaker while he gave me his summary of the breaking news that I missed in those 20 whole minutes I was offline, turned the TV on and tuned into CNN, checked Twitter on my Blackberry, and opened multiple news sites on my laptop. Between Skip, Wolf Blitzer, @perezhilton /@cnnbrk/@50,000othersTweetingaboutit, tmz.com, people.com, cnn.com, my Facebook network, and others, I had countless ' literally, I cannot put a number to how many 'sources telling me their versions of the news (which, by the way, were pretty much all the same) and I was exhausted after about 20 minutes of it. It's no wonder that I couldn't pinpoint how I found out.
I know what you are thinking and I agree ' dork out, media geek. But I am also willing to bet I wasn't the only one.
The next day it remained the dominant story and discussion topic on local and national news and social media sites. By the end of that day people on Facebook were updating their status fields with 'Enough already, let's stop talking about it'? and friends at dinner, after granting themselves a few moments of nostalgia and a faint whisper of a sing-along to the music playing in the bar where we were (a drifting 'mamasaymamasamumacusa'?), were also tired of hearing and talking about it.
For a society so hungry for news in both volume and immediacy, we sure wanted to move on quickly ' is our level of media consumption in this age of social media and immediacy of news shortening consumers' attention spans? When Elvis died the story was likely covered by 3 television networks and your local newspaper, so when consumers tuned in starved for information, most likely, there really were updates. Is it that with news at our fingertips 24/7 we grow tired of the volume of news with few real updates? Or perhaps this is just not as memorable a life moment and we are not as celebrity-obsessed as we thought'?¦maybe all of the above.