On the problems with the Information Age

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  1. Attention decreases as quantity of information increases.
  2. Too many people have opinions; not enough people provide proof.
  3. It’s easier than ever to numb your own pain.

Attention decreases as quantity of information increases.

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When stories were shared by word of mouth in Ancient Greece, people memorized entire books like The Iliad as a testament to their love of those stories. Information was scarcer during Ancient Greece, so beloved stories were given greater attention and care. Devout Muslims for a similar reason memorize the Koran. To them, the Koran is the only true source of information handed down by Allah. However, in the information-drowned world we currently find ourselves, I watch a new movie every day, read 10-20 articles, watch 5-10 YouTube videos. Yet I vaguely remember any of it. I am no expert on attention in cognition, but the more information I have available to me—and there’s a lot—the less mental resources my brain tends to supply. Maybe the brain imagines that there’s something more important down the line, so it doesn’t go all in on what it’s currently attending to. It’s like we’re all on FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) mode by default. Or maybe because we know there’s so much out there, we don’t need to appreciate what we have right in front of us. Nevermind that it took 100s of people 1000s of hours to make this movie you’re watching; there’s 1000 others on Netflix right now.

Too many people have opinions; not enough people provide proof.

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Look online at any article, blog, vlog, TV show. When any of these content make a statement, how often is it ever substantiated? Rarely. This troubles me. It troubles me even above when I said The Iliad was commonly memorized in Ancient Greece. Is that really true? I heard it somewhere, but I don’t remember where. But did you care? When other people aren’t troubled like me, that troubles me more. I want people to know why they believe the things they do. It doesn’t matter in the little cases, like The Iliad, but it matters in the big cases. I don’t want legislation or child rearing or business policy or investments to not be grounded on proof. People’s lives and livelihood depend on it. At least take the time to be sure (or as sure as possible) about what you’re doing then.

It’s easier than ever to numb your own pain.

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It’s pretty much human nature to seek distraction from struggle when struggles get to be too much. I eat a bag of chips or watch a stupid movie or jerk off to porn. You might do something different. That’s fine to do—as long as you go back to dealing with the struggle at the end of the day. People are counting on you. You’re counting on you. Trouble is that it’s easy to get caught in an endless loop of distraction when there’s so much information out there. Getting sucked into a “rabbit hole” is a relatively new phenomenon that likely only occurred in libraries or brothels. Now I can do it anywhere I want with the power of my smartphone. With just a simple web browser, I can drown myself in distractions to keep myself from ever realizing that I’m actually drowning in my own pain.

This is an ever-growing list. I’ll add more as more ideas come up.

 
 

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