Making sense in a time of mass information

The time we are living in now affords us tremendous exposure to information. We all seem to be involved in a conscious (or unconscious) process to discern how to thrive in a time like this.

 

Part of this process is to uncover certain illusions that may constrain our well-being.

 

Hence this piece on three illusions in the time of information overload.

 

The first illusion: I can be concerned about an unlimited number of things.

 

How many news sources inform you on a regular basis? Are you concerned about other countries’ political developments? Do you worry about the outcome of elections even if you are not eligible to vote in that election?

 

If you have answered ‘Yes’ to all three questions, it may be that you are concerned about things you have no say in. See, our exposure to information may lead us to think that it concerns us. It does, and it doesn’t. If the president of one of the biggest economies in the world makes a policy change that affects economic affairs and it directly impacts my business, it is justified to be concerned. But if a statement is made with which I simply don’t agree, it will not serve me well to lose sleep over the matter. One may indeed argue that what is said and done by influential people have an impact on a quantum level, and that is what makes it tricky.

 

The fact remains: you and I were not wired to carry the world and all her problems on our own (one set of) shoulders. More often than not, our circle of concern is far bigger than our circle of influence, making us feel helpless and disempowered.

 

The second illusion: To raise my opinion will have a tremendous impact.

 

We comment on topics that are close to our hearts. We challenge people who act in ways that denigrate our values. We defend the principles we believe in.
But do we really believe that a comment is even read? Or carefully considered? Again, more often than not, online comment sections become venting rooms for people with cropped up anger and does not really contribute to constructive dialogue or arguments.

 

If we really want to make an impact, we will have to consider other options.

 

The third illusion: I need only the internet.

 

Yes, we all know how disconnected we feel when we do not have wifi. It’s a new sensation, an intense feeling that people have not always been familiar with. We read online, date online, have sex online (or with the help of the internet) and drive to our destinations – on instruction – online. This while there are certain things that cannot only take place in the virtual world. We still need to be able to listen to an embodied being expressing their emotions in our company. We still need to know how to boil a kettle or remove a stuck piece of toast without electrocuting ourselves.

 

In closing: we do better when we discern about matters like these together. With real people. Over a glass of water or wine. Or a cup of coffee or a meal.

 

We need each other – our real selves – in order to thrive.

 

RS

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