When I first learned that there is a guy named Tim Tebow, I thought that might be the end of it. Such things have happened before. I will see a name in the news and my keen journalistic senses will leap into action, saying “Huh. I guess that is a guy who did something.” Then my keen journalistic senses will notice a small shiny object and wander off, secure in the knowledge that if Tom Tibblow ends up being relevant to my life, I’ll probably find out in due course.
Months later, I can’t help noticing that Ted Teabowl is being mentioned all over the place. You can’t open a news site without saying to yourself, “Oh hey! There’s a story about that guy again! I guess he did something again.” People keep talking about him on Facebook and Twitter. If I watched TV news, I could surely find 24/7 coverage of the thing he does, whatever that is, perhaps on a special all-Tebow-all-the-time channel which started up recently to meet growing international demand.
I have now gone through the first four stages of News Ignorance:
1. Not knowing because you haven’t even heard about it yet.
2. Not knowing because you haven’t bothered to find out more.
3. Not knowing, while being uncomfortably aware that everyone else knows and there is a chance it might be embarrassing if people find out you don’t know.
4. Desperately trying to hide the fact that you don’t know, because it is now starting to be on the same level as not being aware of the existence of gravity, numbers higher than 10, or the color blue.
…and have progressed to the fifth stage:
5. Deliberately setting out to avoid knowing, out of sheer bloodymindedness and misplaced rage against the fact that the whole world is trying to force you to know.
Pushing the limits of human achievement is a fine tradition. Some people set out to climb Mount Everest without oxygen. Some people try to haul a Boeing 747 with their teeth. As a person living in the USA in 2012, with near-constant access to the Internet and the news media, I feel that it’s no less of an achievement to somehow stay completely unaware of anything whatsoever about Tim Tebow.
He has been doing whatever it is he does for, oh, probably months now, possibly years. Back when he started doing it well enough, or badly enough, or in whatever particular way he does it that makes it newsworthy, I knew exactly two things about him: he plays some sort of sport, possibly football but I’m not 100% certain of that, and he does a thing called Tebowing before/after/during his sport-playing endeavors. I do not know what it is or how I am supposed to feel about it.
Now, after what feels like decades of media coverage, those are still the only two things I know about him. As an information junkie, I am proud of that.
Sooner or later, I know I will accidentally find out more about Tim Tebow. I may even accidentally form an opinion about him. And when that day comes, I will not give up. I will stand firm in my right to not give one single shit, standing alone if necessary against ten thousand websites and newspapers and people talking in the break room at work and unsolicited email forwards and bricks thrown through my window wrapped in photographs and endorsements for products and topical references in late-night comedy.
Because when you get right down to it, knowing nothing about Tim Tebow is just a warmup, tough as it may be. Eventually, I will be good enough at it to move on to the real achievement: knowing nothing about Justin Bieber.