This weekend the midfielder Fabrice Muamba collapsed on the field during a match. Like Brian Philips, I wasn’t watching the game but found out from Twitter almost immediately.
And this, really, is when things got tricky for fans. What do you do, in an era of instant knowledge, when there’s simply nothing to know? I can only speak for myself, but I doubt I’m alone in this: I spent two hours refreshing Twitter, obsessively reloading the Guardian’s live-blog of the match (which turned into a clearinghouse for news), and quietly freaking out. I hadn’t been watching the match when Muamba collapsed, but thanks to the Internet, I heard the news almost immediately, followed the crisis as it unfolded, and now felt absurdly unmoored. My feelings were, I realized, the least important things in the world at that moment, but I was foolishly desperate for news. Again, I don’t think I was the only one.
I kept refreshing my Twitter stream thinking that next tweet was going to be the one with the update. But everyone I followed was thinking and feeling and saying the same thing I was. There was no new information. For an excruciating amount of time.
This sort of pause is rare in my life lately. Read click refresh ⌘-tab. I don’t meditate on one item for a given amount of time. Watching this story unfold gave me pause, I felt frustrated knowing so little.