Is Information Killing Us?


I doubt anyone would argue with me on the idea that we are in the Information Age. We’ve sped past the Industrial Age, outsourced most of our manufacturing, given up our agricultural roots (pun intended) to the corporate farms – and thanks largely to the Internet and Algore(not), have essentially made our mainstay diet, data and information. How utterly enlightened of us. We certainly can and do pat ourselves on the backs for having acheived this milestone in civilized society – yet…. Why in the hell are we so stupid?

I don’t necessarily mean you my friends, I mean we as a collective, as society. Despite the fact, that we have a never-ending source of information, data, news, and connections to same we seem to be stupider than we have ever been. We seem to have less common sense (just read any random 10 lawsuits), less sense of community (read any random 10 pieces of legislature passed, locally or federally), are less likely to lend a hand or think of anything other than our own needs (road rage, current role models, the never-ending stream of victim laws, etc. ad nauseum).

Yet, we are also more educated than we’ve ever been. They are starting kids in pre-pre-school, in order to socialize children, in order to increase their intelligence and ultimately to increase their ability to succeed in higher education and the job market. Yet, more high school seniors are unable to read and write than ever before. When I was in high school, I never even heard of a high school senior who couldn’t read and write – now, it seems to be some sort of social problem for which we need programs, sub-languages (ebonics anyone?), translators, secondary and tertiary language versions of materials and texts and still it doesn’t seem to improve. We blame the teachers for the problem, yet never throw the spotlight on the system in which they are forced to operate. Smart, huh?

Every wonderful and deplorable thing that man has had and does have to offer or has created is at our fingertips – yet, we are never satistifed and continue to feed our incessant craving for stuff but not knowledge. Also, generally speaking, we are unhappier (just look at all the new mental and emotional disorders we have ‘discovered’ in the last 3 decades) and less satisifed with ourselves and our lives. We have so much more than our parents ever had, so much more, so many more choices, opportunities and avenues to take and explore. But rather than being deleriously happy and embracing all of these wonderous things we look to the government to protect us and coddle us from the big bad world. We sacrifice the rearing of our children in exchange for laws that will prevent our neighbors from annoying us or doing things we think they shouldn’t oughta do.

We don’t need to have opinions of our own because we have talking heads, politicians and ‘community leaders’ who will talk for us and let us use their opinions. We have sacrificed our own personal critical thinking skills to them so that they will protect us from our environments, neighbors, nature, and things that go bump in the night, and even ourselves so that we won’t have to be responsible for what we bring into our lives or the lives of others. All so we can live in our bubbles and not be bothered.

We have been lulled into the belief that information is knowledge – that what we see, hear and read is true, by virtue of the fact that we see, hear and read it. Never realizing that it’s just bullshit hitting us faster than it did before at the speed of the latest and greatest Intel processer chip.

We believe indoctrination is education, political correctness is caring, global warming is inevitable, second hand smoke will get us when we aren’t looking, interlopers have rights in our country, terrorists can be reasoned with, children have no right to innocence, certain groups deserve special consideration, drugs can bring us happiness, weight loss and spiritual enlightenment and any entity that provides jobs and commerce are evil. We’ve been sold a bill of goods, my friends. And make no mistake, information is not knowledge. Being able to spew facts at will is not talking truth. And all this information has not enlightened us one whit.

This glut of information is killing us. Killing our souls, our minds and our ability to think. Unless we use the information it will use us – as it is right now. If we never stop to question anything, never stop and say ‘wait a minute, that doesn’t make sense’, never stop to disagree with the information du jour if for no other reason than we can, then what kind of world will we be leaving for the next generation coming up? I think we will leave a world of sheep, a world where books will be banned because they offend, where personal freedoms will be determined by the state and those in power, where our children will no longer need identification, money, property or bank accounts, just a bar code tatooed on their skull and number in one of the giant computers that holds all the information. Think about it.

What do you think?

WC

15 thoughts on “Is Information Killing Us?

  1. I agree fully, Annie. There actually can be a point where we have TMI. I notice this personally….sitting in front of a computer every day is one of the biggest blessings and challenges of my life. One minute, I want to throw my arms around my PC and kiss it. The next, I’m looking for a sledge hammer so I can smash it to hell and back.

    To a certain extent – for me – it’s about simplifying my life. I’ve gone so far at times as to completely stop watching the news, reading newspapers or email type newsletters, and sort of sticking my head in the sand JUST to try to quiet my mind.

    Sometimes I ache for my own kids. The world they are growing up in, is a bizarre and wonderful and scary as any SciFi novel. And potential grandchildren? If I read too much world news, my heart despairs of us even making in to the next decade before the whole fucking world explodes – literally.

    Thank you for this post today. It’s a good reminder for me to KISS, stay with the basics, and love.

    xoxox

    Hey Gracie,
    You took the words right out of my mouth – TMI. And the sad part is that it’s just junk information – like any garbage all you can do is throw it away. Hopefully, there are still some of us out there who want to continue using our noggins. It’s the only hope, I think.

    XO
    Annie

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  2. I want to agree. I know that in my not so little town that wants to be a little town, I am admittedly apathetic about all the big issues that our community must face. I get depressed not just at the content of the news but how it’s being presented to us. Yet, then, I find some amazing blogs here in blog world that make me stop and think… like this one, and I want to imagine that plenty of hope and love and good things abound to balance all the bad. NO, not just imagine, I will look for it and do my best to assist in its creation! Thank you for this post.

    Hi CC,
    And welcome. I like your attitude. Obviously, we all hope what you do or we’d just be slowly dying in front of our big screen tv’s staring at the latest reality television. Isn’t that quite the oxymoron? Reality TV? As if any of it were real. Puleeze.

    Thanks for stopping by and please feel free to come back and yak.

    WC

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  3. Okay – you asked so I’ll tell you what I think. For a long time I’ve been feeling this way – we have tons of info and tons of ability as the intelligent creatures that we humans are. But we always just seem to plow ahead to see if we COULD do something, if we are ABLE to do it. However, we never ask whether we SHOULD do something and what the implications might be. In most cases, we ARE able to do an infinite number of things. With the right funding, research, curiosity, and persistence, we are capable of so much. But what are the long term effects? Why do we always seem to leap before we look?

    Great question Teeni – perhaps you could write a post about our propensity to act first and think later. It could be a real stunner.
    WC

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  4. Oops – to summarize and answer your question – I don’t think information is killing us. I think the fact that we THINK we know more than we really do might be killing us. That combined with love of the almighty dollar puts us in some dire straits.

    And add to that mix laziness and you’ve got a cake full of disaster.
    WC

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  5. We ceratinly do have lots of information at our fingertips and the opportunity to gain knowledge- but information regarding what? knowledge about what? A bunch of crapola. Brintey Spears, flag pins, high speed car chases (which i admit, i miss watching) but it’s all crap none-the-less.

    With all of our strides, we have yet to acquire wisdom- which is the application of knowledge- good, pure knowledge. And all the technology in the world cannot and will not cultivate understanding or empathy in our society- which is necessary in order to deal with each other.

    If anything, i believe convenience is what is killing our humanity. Everything is too easy. You can’t read? Let the next teacher take care of it. Don’t have time to get to know someone- sign up for online dating. Kids have too much energy after sitting around all day? Ritalin, my friend. Rather than teaching our children the importance of ethics, motivation and honesty, we model the acquiring of things. Little Johnny wants a car? Mortgage the house.

    We want our bullshit fast and easy. Let the next generation deal with the consequences.

    i feel guilty about the world my girls are growing up in. i try to shelter them as much as i can. i even hope, sometimes, that they do not have any children because i can’t even imagine the horror of that time.

    Hey Chica,
    Wonderfully said and very good points. It is all too easy, isn’t it? And yet, instead of filling up our time with more gratifying experiences, time with friends and family, learning new skills, working on personal goals, we use up the time that convenience has afforded us watching crap, surfing crap and so on.

    I have a feeling though, your girls will help their own children find their way in the world – and it will be blessed for having them .

    Annie

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  6. Oh Lordie, I really ought to post on this.

    I couldn’t agree with you more. True thought and individual process of information has become a thing of the past. It cracks me up – there’s this cable channel called “G4” which is all for the 25-40 year olds with too much technology on the brain. One of their popular segments is known as “The Feed”, a short bit of information fed to you by a pretty girl – “the only information you need to know”. The tag line at the end? “Consider yourself fed.” Oh sweet and blatant truism, I see you!

    That sums up the horror of the information age. With the Industrial Age, the horror was the enslavement of people and the devastating gap between the poor and the rich. With the Agricultural Age, it was mostly the same but even more due to the daily reality of hunger, disease, exposure to the elements and famine. Now? It’s the mass hypnosis of information- and technology-overload that has created a society of ignorance and glorified narcissism. One can only hope that there will be intellectual survivors of this society that, though clichรฉ, seems more and more like the great societies right before they fell into oblivion (see Rome, Greece, British Empire, the Inca Empire).

    Hey MS,
    Wow, you are so right on. I think you should do a post on this. I agree, we are going the way of the great and then crumbled civilizations of the past.
    WC

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  7. Yes, it is killing us and will continue to do so unless; as you stated.. we start to question when something doesn’t make sense. Annie, you are such wonderful writer. You take a subject and get into every nook and cranny; you are very thoughtful and truthful. The paragraph that struck a chord with me is, “We have been lulled into the belief that information is knowledge – that what we see, hear and read is true, by virtue of the fact that we see, hear and read it. Never realizing that itโ€™s just bullshit hitting us faster than it did before at the speed of the latest and greatest Intel processer chip”.
    Wowsa! ‘Aint that the truth!!! There are massive contradictions everywhere I look – I don’t know what’s what anymore!
    It brings to mind an exercise we did in school when I was younger. The teacher asked us to sit in a circle, she would whisper a small story into “Suzie’s” ear, and Suzie would whisper it to the person next to her, and so on. By the time it reached that last person in the circle, he/she would stand up and repeat the story – and OH, how it didn’t even come close to the original story.
    So much shiznit, coming from so many thousands and thousands of sources, all that have taken on a life of their own. Mind-boggling and such a sad day and age. Just a day and age of the UNKNOWN.

    Hey Bella,
    You know, I think we just have to keep reminding ourselves that this data dump that we are being fed is just that. We must keep our observational skills sharp and the bullshit detectors on. Know what I mean?
    WC

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  8. WC, are you my twin? Because I was just about to start writing a post very similar to this. I think that the more we know, the sadder we become. The internet is like arsenic in our morning coffee- it kills us slowly. We could sue the internet, but then we’d just be making another stupid lawsuit. The only option is to destroy it, along with anyone who substitutes “u” for “you.”

    DT,
    I think we are twins. I’m sure of it. We are both brilliant, modest and full of crapola – no mistake, it must be kismet. ๐Ÿ˜†
    wc

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  9. Having taught, being a parent, and being a resonably educated person in today’s society, I have many opinions on this particular matter. Which can be seen in how I raise my children. I think I have the only preschoolers in the country who don’t have any electronic games.

    However, that aside, I have a prevailing notion that one of the greatest issues being present in the informaiton age is the inability to problem-solve. Which leads to a lack of intuition. And the lost art of inference.

    Problems are solved for us from birth. Therefore we don’t need to learn how. Everything is prepackaged, prearranged, prescreened, prepared for us.

    When things come easily, people never learn how to, well, learn, stupidity becomes an inherent part of that society.
    IMO, anyway

    Jess, exactly what I was trying to say, although you said it much better. We don’t have to think because our thinking is being done for us. It’s kinda creepy, eh?
    Annie

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  10. I love this post and even the comments left about it. Even though I do not know much of anything about it…it seems as if the “No Child Left Behind” program has kind of…assisted in the lack of reading and writing high school seniors. I am a 2007 graduate and throughout my senior year I was constantly aggravated by the fact that many of my fellow graduating seniors probably should not be graduating high school and joining the real world. It was even more aggravating that the teachers in my school were constantly giving in to theses students. I can not tell you how many students I saw sleep through class and still pass with seventies or eighties. Teachers just pass them along, afraid of being put down by the school system for upsetting parents, making a bad image for the school by causing kids to go to summer school or go back a year, or upsetting the plan of “No Child Left Behind.” This is just my opinion.

    Also, I agree that problem solving is a big part of making it in the world. I took a physics class in which my teacher focused mainly on problem solving. While taking that class I realized how bad I am at viewing and addressing a problem. I didn’t even know how to approach it. Not just math or physics problems, but every day problems. What I learned in that class helped me a lot.

    All in all, I believe that if the government and school systems would stop pacifying to the lazy children who are given everything they don’t deserve, they might find that our future children might be more likely to go out and discover the world that we are taught to be afraid of and out future might be a little more efficient.

    Hi EU,
    Welcome. Very thoughtful statements – I agree that those who don’t deserve a passing grade should not be given one, regardless of pressure or political correctness. I’m happy for you that you learned problem solving via your physics class, it will serve you well throughout your life. Perhaps you could pay it forward to some friends or classmates?

    I’m not really sure, but I don’t think the NoChildLeftBehind program was about letting people slide, I believe it was supposed to be a solution to the alarming increase in illiteracy in school children. Unfortunately, when the government gets involved in things like education it only makes things worse. I wish to heck they’d retire the Dept of Education and return it to the states. At least then, we might have a fighting chance.
    WC

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  11. I’ll take Dumbasses Through History for a thousand Alex.

    In a world that will give Al Gore a fucking Nobel Prize, idiocracy reigns supreme.

    I’m so with you on this Evyl, stay tuned for future ranting on same.
    WC

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  12. Don’t even get me started on “No Child Left Behind”.

    I think I will write a post on that one.

    Hey Hon, if it inspires a passion in you, then you must write it. ๐Ÿ˜‰
    WC

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  13. After twenty years and more behind one keyboard or another, I have pretty much determined the issue: I can’t multitask worth squat.

    So if I should miss out on some up-to-the-minute factoid because I was doing something marginally less useless, like trying to pay the bills – well, them’s the breaks.

    Good attitude, CG! ๐Ÿ˜‰
    WC

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  14. Hmm – I could do that post. First I have a little fairty tale I’ve got to get off my back though! ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Hey, no rush. You just sounded so passionate about the topic I thought I’d suggest it. And what’s this about a fairy tale? Anything I might be interested in? ๐Ÿ˜‰
    WC

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  15. i’m nodding, i have much i want to say but i can’t seem to hold the thought long enough to get it down …

    i remember years ago when i was still in university, stressing the point that education had to change to keep up with the technology ~ there has to be more importance put on the ability to critically think and sort through the mass of information to find what is useful. writing is even more important now than ever before and the ability to use the information in ways that promote positive changes and postive thought …

    for example, on a personal level, there are hundreds of thousands of blogs that i could choose to read but i choose ones like yours because your writing is thought provoking, strong and full of insight ๐Ÿ™‚ we learn to filter through the information to get to the meat of it or at least that is my hope …

    Hey D!
    Yes, the filtering process is the one many seem to be lacking in today’s world. Hopefully, enough of us pass on that gene to the youngin’s and we can keep it going. If not, well, I suppose we’ll soon just have a KingoftheWorld to tell us all what to think and do. ๐Ÿ˜‰
    WC

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