The Need For Nowness

In case you missed it, Elizabeth Minkel is bothered by “ICYMI”:

I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve seen someone apologize for sharing something “old” that was published 48 hours prior. I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve seen something interesting and completely un-timely and thought about sharing it, only to stop myself when I noticed it had been published a year or two ago. And I’ve lost track of the number of times when I’ve seen a piece – or, for that matter, written a piece – that seems to fall flat because it came out a week or two after the bulk of an internet maelstrom.

“In Case You Missed It” makes the feeling explicit. It’s hard for a lot of us to fight the compulsion to stay up-to-the-minute – in reality, it’s impossible, but it somehow seems achievable. ICYMI makes staying connected feel like a constant game of catch-up, like finding things at a slower pace warrants some kind of disclaimer.

I’m not the first to complain about the unrelenting pace of information online, or the method of its delivery.

“The Stream,” the chronological endless scrolling nature of the present web—one new notification, one new notification – rose to prominence about five years ago. Alexis Madrigal wrote beautifully about our sense of time online last December, the valorization of “nowness,” how the next tweet inherently trumps what came before it: … We feel overwhelmed because we crave endings, and the Internet has no end. “And now, who can keep up?” Madrigal writes. “There is a melancholy to the infinite scroll.” ICYMI is a tacit acknowledgement of that psychological finish line, always being moved an inch more out of reach – I can feel it now, chipping away at me.

The Dish makes a habit of posting new material as quickly as possible after its publication, to bring you the freshest yet most comprehensive take on an issue. If we get around to certain pieces too long after their publication date, we often pass on them. But that drive towards nowness is balanced by our constant linking back to material from the archives, to feature the old alongside the new.