Pete Davison: A Wealth of Useless Knowledge

Posted on April 16, 2011 by

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The above comic isn’t actually that far from the truth. (I remembered the code from Another World but had to look up the Ultima Underworld II spell. I at least remembered that “ylem” was one of the runes, however.) All this leads me to the conclusion that our brains are clearly wired up all wrong, and we need some sort of GMail Labs-style multiple inbox feature in order to appropriately prioritise the things that enter our brain and the things that we can safely delete when there’s something very important to remember, such as girlfriends’ birthdays. (November 19. I sacrificed the cheat code forSonic 2 to make way for this information.)

I’m not sure if everyone else’s brain works in this way or if it’s just a side-effect of being a massive nerd. But most people have something that they’re extremely interested in, and will remember all sorts of useless facts about to bore their friends with down the pub. If you’re lucky, you’ll be friends with people who also know useless facts. If you’re unlucky, you’ll have all this knowledge squirrelled away with no-one to share it with—which is why the Internet exists, of course. And if you’re particularly unlucky, you’ll be friends with someone who’s an even bigger nerd than you and is fond of correcting you every time you slightly misquote Ghostbusters. (Seriously. Fuck that guy.)

But I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing. Imagine how dull life would be if the only things wedged into your long term memory were your unique taxpayer reference number, your national insurance number, every password you’ve ever used and the sites they work for, and those arbitrary user IDs online banks insist on you using rather than allowing you to pick your own ID that you might be able to remember. And, of course, your car’s MOT expiration date. (Sometime in August. I think.)

No. I’d much rather have cool stuff lodged in my brain that I can surprise and delight people with. (I have nerdy friends who find the fact I can remember Lester Chaykin’s keycode from Another World immensely amusing… possibly at my expense, but I don’t care at this point. Embrace who you are, I say.) Cool stuff in your brain allows you to become An Authority on a subject. And being An Authority is fun, because it means people come and ask you stuff about things you’re interested in. It’s like having people respect you and your opinions.

And sure, not everyone necessarily understands why you’re so obsessive about Buffy the Vampire Slayer/Final Fantasy/Dungeons and Dragons/the collected interactive works of Jane Jensen/Minecraft/Twilight/Formula 1/porn stars of the 1980s/the board gameAgricola. But it’s important to you, and it gives you something to explore when you haven’t got anything better to do—and something with which to bond with like-minded people via the Internet (or even real life if you’re very, very lucky.)

It must be kind of sad to not have anything to obsess over. Do those people have any fun?

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Posted in: Pete Davison