There are a few ways to look at how history occurs. One is that it happens too fast to comprehend. Another is that it repeats itself far too much to ignore.
Consider the 1994 video of the “Today” show, where Katie Couric and Bryant Gumbel were flummoxed by this “Internet” thing.
And who could blame them? Imagine there was another you born 17 years earlier; essentially, the 1994 version of you is the same age as you now. Your 1994 self has just met you, and you have to explain the iPhone.
“It’s a portable telephone. No, there’s no battery bag; the charge lasts about a day. It stores all of your friends’ phone numbers and you can tell it who to call or text. Well, texting is like e-mail for your phone. Oh, e-mail is kind of like a letter, except it’s sent wirelessly, like satellite radio. Satellite radio is what I listen to when I’m tired of my phone’s music collection. I’ve got about 3,500 songs in my phone, and a few movies for when I’ve got to wait somewhere in the car. I actually don’t like my phone because it only does 3G, and not 4G. It also cuts out all the time, and it’s slow to update Facebook. What’s Facebook? Hmmm, let’s go get lunch; bring a notepad.”
But then I look at everyday life and feel like it’s more akin to “Groundhog Day.” If you’re not familiar, Bill Murray plays a Pittsburgh weatherman stuck in small-town Punxsutawney due to inclement weather, and he has to relive Groundhog Day there every time he wakes up.
Basically, after months of reliving the same day and having selfish pursuits rebuffed, he realizes he’ll get what he wants only when he uses his circumstances to become a better person.
Even Sunday felt like Groundhog Day, as Fox was promoting a new show with Simon Cowell judging aspiring singers, with a promise of a record deal in return (it’s called “X Factor” this time). Also, there’s a new “Fast and Furious” movie coming out, which will be better than the last one because another star was added to the cast (just like its other sequels).
Or consider President Obama, who went to speak Thursday at Penn State, instead of going to Punxsutawney for the weather-delayed Groundhog Day celebration. The state’s Republican Party chairman, Rob Gleason, said choosing “the comfort of a college university” instead of average Americans in Punxsutawney was “everything that’s wrong with this president.”
I imagined a version of “Groundhog Day” for Obama, where he wakes up and realizes he can do Thursday again. He goes to Punxsutawney this time, and checks the news to find out the state Republican Party chairman felt Obama upstaging the Punxsutawney celebration and thumbing his nose as education was “everything that’s wrong with this president.”
Eventually, he’d realize that Gleason was criticizing the trip before the Punxsutawney celebration was ever a factor. But that would be a few months down the road, before he realized he could do everything people who voted for him didn’t want, and he still wouldn’t pick up votes from the other side of the spectrum.
I’m either looking too closely, or I’m pulling my view back too far. At least I don’t think I’ve written this column before … right?