Searching for the Truth

In Life on March 17, 2011 by thebetweenthoughts

What is the tenth decimal place of pi?  Who won the World Series in 1969?  How tall is the highest mountain in the world?

If you’re reading this blog on your computer, you probably just opened up a new tab in your browser and found the answers to all of these questions.  (If you’re on an iPhone, you’re probably still searching because AT&T doesn’t have a strong enough signal where you are.)  Information, regardless of how minute and trivial, is literally at our fingertips.

How has this affected our outlook on life?  At first, we responded with enthusiasm and searched for all of the answers we had left behind for the sake of time and effort.  Every silly question that had plagued our mind could now be answered with the click of search button.  This eventually evolved into information fatigue and ultimately into information withdrawal.  Instead of seeking out the answers to all of the questions in our lives, we only search for our immediate needs.  We don’t explore the internet anymore; it’s no longer a toy.  It’s a functional tool to increase productivity and quality.  A sad by-product of this evolution is how we have stopped learning.  Because of the quick retrieval capabilities of the internet, we don’t need to retain information in our minds.  It’s always out there.  It’s always searchable.  If I need to learn how to calculate something in excel, I can quickly google (seriously…how did this become a verb?  Have we lowered the standards that much?  Can Alek be a verb?  I’ll let my readership define it.) the process, apply it…and then just as quickly forget it until I need to use it again.

We could have used this extra brain “space” to focus more on critical thinking…to develop our minds in creative and transformational ways.  Instead, we became even more passive.  Facebook is probably the best example of this.  Although community is its biggest selling point, Facebook has also turned into a resource for news and information.  Stories of note are constantly pushed out to other members of the community.  Google allowed us to engage with content in a way that other forms of media didn’t really allow.  Our preferences guided the information with which we would interact.  Facebook has swung the pendulum back.  Information is forced upon us (now by friends, instead of content providers) and we accept its influence.  I’m still not sure if this is an evolution or a reversion.

Is it a better world because I can find the starting pitcher for the Giants in the 1986 World Series?  Or is it worse because I know my friend’s March Madness college basketball bracket?  Oftentimes, we fail to see that content consumption is our choice.  We allow information to flow through us without any thought as to how it might be affecting us.

Thanks for letting these thoughts affect yours.



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