Friday, April 23, 2010

The Most Awesomest Thing Ever (dot com)

I never thought that in my life I would be forced to decide between crayons and vikings. And yet, here I am....

My friend introduced me to this the other day, and it's quite fun. From the "about" page:
"By endlessly pitting two things against each other, we’ve created a stage set for destruction. You will battle, winners will emerge. Only the strongest shall reach the hallowed halls of the Most Awesomest."
The thing is, by pitting two completely random and unrelated things together, you can actually decide a winner. Quickly. And justify it. Industrial Revolution vs. Burger King's Whopper? Industrial Revolution wins, hands down. Why? Because you couldn't have a whopper without the socioecomonic conditions set forth by mechanization. Makes sense, right?

Sure, it's just a game developed by some nerdy programmers at a creative agency. But hidden behind its frivolity is something very interesting. Set in front of a burning, post-apocalyptic urban street corner, you are told to battle between two arbitrary things. Larry Bird vs. Edamame; Prada vs. Nutter Butter; Batteries vs. Portsmouth, NH. The design of the website makes your decision over which one wins epic and urgent, blowing the loser into a fiery oblivion. One prevails, and one is destroyed. One can only exist without the other. A binary opposition; either a 1 or a 0.

Computers operate in binary code, but the world doesn't. That's an important distinction. Yet I've felt that in the information society, things are increasingly presented to us as such, deeply embedded in an ideology of mutual exclusion. Regulation vs. Deregulation; Universal Health Care vs. Privatized Health Care; Socialism vs. Capitalism; Religion vs. Atheism; Gay Marriage vs. Heterosexual Marriage; Red vs. Blue. Pundits shape the modern world as a field of mutually exclusive phenomena, and this, I think, is "a stage set for destruction." We are battling, and winners will emerge. But in a continuum of experience artificially packaged as unrelated, dichotemous constructs, how can we decide a winner?

It's also interesting to note that the Internet is ranked the #1 most awesomest thing... just ahead of Life and Oxygen. Now that's pretty yaka-wow.

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