Each of us knows things that really don't matter to us. For example, I know that Kim Kardashian and rapper Kanye West are having a baby together, despite the fact that Kim is not yet divorced from her basketball-player husband, from whom she separated after some ridiculously short period of time, following a staggeringly expensive wedding. I know that Taylor Swift has split up with her most recent boyfriend. (Even though Taylor's breakup happened just a few days ago, I bet she's already written a song about it. Honestly, she must have released at least a half-dozen songs in the last few years about breaking up with old boyfriends. Maybe her next song should be titled "It's Not You, It's Me.")
I am not particularly interested in gossip about Kim, who is famous for being famous, or about Taylor Swift's love life, even though I like her songs. But in a world with so much media, you can't avoid it. And even if you are one of those people who claims to watch only PBS, you aren't escaping the raging waters of pop culture over there. "Downton Abbey," anyone? If you don't own a TV, you aren't getting away from it, either. Twitter and Facebook require us to engage with all sorts of fluff. And even if you stay off the Internet entirely, there's still probably a copy of People magazine in the waiting room at the dentist's office.
Everybody has this problem of stuff taking up space in our brains that we don't find particularly important. For example, my wife could probably tell you about the knee injury suffered by Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III in the NFL playoff game last Sunday. But I am guessing she would also tell you that her quality of life would not be drastically affected if she'd never heard of Robert Griffin III.
Imagine what we could accomplish if our brains were uncluttered. Maybe I could have figured out how to turn water into gasoline the other day if I hadn't been distracted by some story about Lindsay Lohan. We'll never know.