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We are swimming. Many of us are swimming hard. We are swimming up a river, against the current. With every stroke, we are being carried away in the flow, treading hard to keep our head up—to keep from drowning.
You’ve probably heard somewhere that we are living in the ‘information age’ or the ‘media age.’ Perhaps, you have noticed how, to keep up, you have to really struggle. I’ll put you a bit at ease, you can’t. You must pick and choose what information you wish to consume. These days, you need to also make sure you select good information.
We are all surrounded by plenty of information, but how much of it is valuable, useful, accurate, or even true? That’s right, not all information is good for you. Somewhere in all the information you must daily sift through is the message. The message is the content and meaning that is being communicated to you by another person or group of people and is also of importance and worth to you. When the amount of information and the number of messages increases, you need to determine what is most important and of greatest value to you.
You might now be asking, what is the other information? That is, what about all the less important and less value or of less worth information? Well, it is noise. Just like useless sounds that get in the way of you hearing something you want to hear, there is information that is noise. You need to learn to ignore it. It will waste your time and draw you away from increasing your knowledge, skills, understanding and wisdom in the way you truly want.
When I watch TV, I don’t want to watch commercials. They are there to cleverly try to persuade me to buy a product or service. I flip to something else. I have to be careful. It is too easy to get lost, even mesmerized into watching useless TV shows that really have little or no value or interest to me. The same goes for music, in fact any information from any media. We all need to be critically thinking about what we are consuming and how it is affecting us.
OK, I have covered valuable and useful. What about accurate and true information? You will have to keep in mind that life is about quality, not quantity. You will be better off if you take the time to verify information rather than believe it and move on because you will never get through everything you want.
How can you verify information? Stick with reliable sources. There are reasons why traditional news sources are worthy, however, you can, and should verify those too with other sources. Be careful not to spread inaccurate or false information. You have a responsibility to not be part of the problem. So, have a variety of sources that you feel are accurate. Read, listen and watch with a critical mind. Don’t believe everything as truth unless you are sure. Don’t believe everything just because it is on TV. As the old saying goes, ‘…trust everyone, but always cut the deck.’ That is, make a final check before you bet.
Remember, machines can hold information, your goal is to grow in that which makes you more human than a machine—wisdom. Wisdom might be gained from the assimilation of the best of information into knowledge and understanding blended with real life experiences. Tune out the noise and listen to the message. Take time to link it to what you already know. In this way you can come to understand the message better.
Perhaps, it is like food. If you eat a lot of foods, some will be good, some not so good. Keep eating a lot and you will get quite a bit of good food, however, you will get more bad food and that food will make you unhealthy. If you can identify what is good for you and eat mostly that food, you will be healthy. I think your mind works much the same way, with the goal of healthy wisdom.
Is this old school? Some people might argue that the world has changed. That there is too much to learn these days. They would say that, as you immerse yourself in the sea of information, the message will get through. In the same way, instead of studying an image, such as a painting, one would view many, perhaps hundreds, of images to get the message.
Is noise part or all of the message? Depending on the situation, the amount of noise in relation to the message might reach well over 90 percent. That’s a lot of noise and a lot of time to filter out the noise. Check the speed of images that are flashed before you on TV. Like viewing billboards from a fast moving train. Can we gain wisdom from quantity? Can we get the message from among the noise? Maybe what’s important will stand out, no matter what the flow of information. The human mind might be able to sift and sort out that which can bring wisdom, despite the noise. The noise is certainly going to do something though. It seems clear that this is a situation of us being kept busy and overwhelmed—not in control.
Should we care? Why not simply go with the flow? Why not just see where we end up and enjoy the trip? Well, that is not how humans ha
Should we let technology carry us away, down the river into the info-abyss of information, perhaps making us less human through the erosion of what makes us more human than a machine—wisdom.ve acted in the past. There is something about us that wants to be in control. It is a survival mechanism.