The digital information age: Boon or boondoggle?
TMI, meaning “Too Much information,” is usually used when someone shares a snippet of information that goes far beyond anything we would want to know about them. Like when the guy behind you in the checkout line strikes up a conversation and then says, “After a couple of days I reverse my underwear to get an extra day or so of wear.” Definitely TMI.
On the other hand TMI might be an appropriate assessment for a much greater phenomenon, the explosion of information available caused by the digital age. It would seem that the more sources of knowledge we have, the less informed we become.
Although I lack scientific data to back it up, it would appear to the casual observer that with the increase of media sources has come a tendency to filter out much, if not all of the content that does not validate our preconceived notions.
Several years ago, while learning a difficult new system at work, a frustrated co worker questioned the need for continued technological advances and said that in her opinion, “the highest and happiest self-sustainable level of human society was the stone age.”
That statement has come back to mind many times over the years, always with the question: At what point did we stop living in complete harmony with nature and begin to alter it to fit our perceived needs? And at what cost?
Consider the life style of the Pacific Islanders prior to the time when the voyages of Captain Cook brought them Christianity, European moral codes, modest clothing and sexually transmitted disease. Arguably being suddenly thrust into the then modern world did not increase their potential for happiness and harmonious living.
In many ways the computer age has been our Captain Cook and its promise of knowledge and edification has become, as a result of TMI, a reality of distraction and a narrowing of interests.
I don’t know if there is an acceptable answer to this conundrum, we certainly aren’t going to treat our computers and other digital devices to a modern day “Bonfire of the Vanities.”
One simple solution might be if we each adopt a new regimen when surfing the net; for every several sites visited that validate our preconceived ideas on a subject perhaps we should challenge ourselves by seeking out at least one that offers an opposing view.
There was a time, in recent history, when we all had to work to gain useful information and that effort strengthened our intellect. We cannot afford to allow the lack of effort offered by the TMI digital age to cause our intellectual muscles to atrophy.
Thank you for your time.