One More Small Step For The Information Age

« May 2008 »

Memo to you and your midnight hassle: YOU ARE DUMB.

One of the great joys of living in the future, neck-deep in the Information Age, is that heaps of useless information is literally seconds away from you at all times. IMDB, Wikipedia, Google - if you want to know something, the odds are pretty good that you can find it. And we get used to having that information available to us readily, with such minimal effort that the apathy threshold is practically nonexistent.

The downside to this, of course, is that when the information you want ISN'T readily available, there's a sense of withdrawal, of powerlessness, that can be infuriating. Which is why I'm proposing, right now, as a further step toward my perfect Utopian world, a set of federal laws designed to create and support a website that, right now, I'm calling

Here's the situation. Those of you living in apartment buildings, condos, dorms, or close-set urban communities will relate immediately. Those of you who are suburban homeowners with large lawns and setbacks will have to rely on memory. Anyway, it's late at night. So late at night you'd wonder, semantically, if it wouldn't be better to just say it was early in the morning. And somewhere nearby, in your building, your complex, outside your window, whatever, someone else is undergoing hassle.

It could be a lover's quarrel. It could be drunken assholery. It could just be roommates losing their temper or a party gone wrong. All you know is, you WERE blissfully asleep, and now you're not. You're listening to raised voices, things being thrown, doors being slammed, f-bombs being dropped, car horns being honked, whatever. There is altercation. there is antagonism, there are a bunch of other a-words, and that shit is keeping you a-wake. And what's worse is, it is never, EVER clear enough to figure out the context or narrative.

This is where the website comes in. At, you can go, enter your zip code, street address, and approximate time of disturbance, and it will search its database for a match. Now, as voyeuristic and exhibitiotastic as the Internet is, I don't expect this database to be filled voluntarily, which is where federal law comes in. We simply need to define a range of time, say, between midnight and 5 a.m. local, during which any incident that meets certain criteria for behavior, vocabulary, and/or decibel level MUST by law be reported to

Anyone who fails to report their incident would be subject to a $2,500 fine. This money would go into a pool, and be used to fund the bandwidth costs of, the task force required to investigate and issue fines, and a telephone hotline service for people without Internet access to report their incidents with a toll-free call. The benefits to society, as you can see, would be enormous.

First, there's the deterrent effect. Are you going to break up with your girlfriend at two in the morning? Or are you going to perhaps think about the hassle of writing the argument up online, and wait until the following afternoon? Or maybe you can find a way to break up with her that doesn't involve anyone sitting on top of anyone else's car while they honk and scream.

And when it's NOT a deterrent, well, we can go online the next morning and, in a matter of moments, at least have an answer as to WHY we lost sleep. Sleep is a wonderful, precious commodity, and like any other commodity, it's even more valuable when it becomes more scarce. If you're going to rob me of that vital resource because you can't manage your fucking life, then the least you can do is repay me with the specific, entertaining details of your inability to get your shit together. Look for it in the first six months after I get put in charge of running everything.