The ever-accelerating news cycle

Fireworks like “KONY 2012” burn more brightly than they would have in the past, but for better or worse, they tend to be extinguished faster than ever, too. Just ask Jeremy Lin, who’s no longer a source of “Linsanity,” or Karen Handel, who’s no longer a top official at the Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation, or Michele Bachmann, no longer a presidential candidate. Or Rick Perry. Or Herman Cain. (If you can remember why they were newsworthy at all.)…

“The news itself has become so ubiquitous, so constant that our eyes only pop out when a really shiny object comes flowing down the river,” said Jim Bankoff, the head of Vox Media, which operates the sports Web site SB Nation and the technology site The Verge. “People don’t just consume it, they ‘like’ it, retweet and e-mail it. All this sharing leads to more sharing, which sets off a trend, which sparks more coverage.”

Sometimes this can be distracting; sometimes, even suffocating. And yet we seem to gain something from it — a common online conversation. A common ground. Or at the very least, a currency for jokes.

AND then, just as suddenly, we switch over to the next big story.