“We live in a world where there is more and more information, and less and less meaning,” writes Jean Baudrillard in Simulacra and Simulation (originally published in 1981).
He goes on to argue that “information is directly destructive of meaning and signification.” “Information devours its own content,” he adds, “It devours communication and the social.”
There are two reasons Baudrillard give for this. I’ll draw your attention here only to the first. Speaking of information, he writes,
“Rather than creating communication, it exhausts itself in the act of staging communication. Rather than producing meaning, it exhausts itself in the staging of meaning. A gigantic process of simulation that is very familiar. The nondirective interview, speech, listeners who call in, participation at every level, blackmail through speech: ‘You are concerned, you are the event, etc.’ More and more information is invaded by this kind of phantom content, this homeopathic grafting, this awakening dream of communication. A circular arrangement through which one stages the desire of the audience, the antitheater of communication, which, as one knows, is never anything but the recycling in the negative of the traditional institution, the integrated circuit of the negative. Immense energies are deployed to hold this simulacrum at bay, to avoid the brutal desimulation that would confront us in the face of the obvious reality of a radical loss of meaning.”
CNN was, then, barely a year old, Twitter and Facebook altogether unimagined. It seems to me, nearly four decades on that we incontrovertibly live in the antitheater of communication.