Information Inundation

It seems that we are constantly bombarded by information from all angles ever more so today than in the past. I still remember a time when, if you had a question about anything, you had to do your research at the library. Even simply asking someone wasn’t an option when my teachers would always tell me, “Look it up.” Now, however, if any question comes to mind, we simply whip out our phones and start surfing Google.

We also have instant news at our fingertips 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Between smart-phone alerts, Twitter, and Facebook, we no longer have to wait until the evening news – or the morning paper – it’s always and constantly right there.

I can’t help but wonder, though, if this is a good thing or a bad thing. There are pros and cons of both sides of thinking. On one hand, we can quickly look up who won Miss America in 1978, or what movies Patrick Stewart has done in his career, or even a good recipe for boneless, skinless chicken breasts where capers and onions are two of the ingredients.

On the other hand, there are the times when we need to look up certain historical events and have a tendency to turn to websites like Wikipedia instead of solid, published materials – which tends to teach us that the Korean War was ended with the use of the Atomic Bomb.

Personally, I find the plethora of information exhilarating. Most of the information I’m looking for are simple and mundane answers (like to settle a bet between me and Hubby; though I’m usually the one to lose when it comes to names and faces and movies). I also find all the dings, blings, and whistles announcing more current affairs arriving on my phone at times somewhat annoying (like at 2:27 in the morning). But the snippets of information they give me when I’m finally awake keeps me in the know. It reminds me of the days before broadband, when you would leave your computer turned on and checking email all night long so you could check it to and from the bathroom in the middle of the night.

But does all this information turn us into brainiacs? Hardly! But it does (at the very least) give us enough information that we can hold conversations on most anything from sports to religion to politics and entertainment. We find ourselves in spaces with other people and generally submerse ourselves in our music or the dirt under our nails, that we’ve forgotten what it’s like to actually have a conversation with another human being we don’t know. Just the other day, I found myself in a shuttle car taking me from the auto dealer to my office. On the way, we stopped to pick up another person who started up a conversation with the driver and me. At first I was thinking to myself, “Why is this woman trying to engage us in conversation?” when it suddenly dawned on me:

This is what people did before the Internet! This is how they entertained each other and learned things other than from the newspaper or the 11:00 news!

So perhaps we can find some form of comfort in today’s information inundation – being able to use it to our advantage in opening our minds to other thoughts (even if we’re just skimming to get the gist of the article), and then use those thoughts to start … *gasp* … a conversation with others.

Who knows? This could be revolutionary!