Information Junkies and Discerning in the Digital Age
Recently I heard someone say "there's no excuse for ignorance in the information age" which made me think of all of the knowledge I've acquired over the years, thanks to the Internet. I've been able to fully delve into the science and art of yoga which expanded my interest into meditation and healing techniques and all kinds of good and interesting stuff that I wouldn't readily have access to, especially not for free. I've been able to make connections with like-minded well outside of my immediate social circle, all of which has aided my personal growth.
While its true that technology has the ability to and is expanding our consciousness and our reach and access when wanting to obtain, explore and digest information this also gives us the scope to become information junkies - encyclopaedias with an opinion and the ability to churn out a fact about everything and anything.
The Internet gives immediate answers and social media is full of rolling opinions and perspectives, with people unreservedly spitting their truth. During any televised event, major news story, or scandal you can observe the commentary of people constantly critiquing and passing judgement, warranted and informed or not. It's evident that this information age has had a major impact on the evolving nature of journalism and news reporting - twitter wins hands down with breaking news. I also feel that it's moulded the way major news channels report the news and also, what they report - recently, seeing sky news report live from outside of the jail Justin Bieber was being held in was, in my opinion, an insult to Journalism, but you know, it's what gets the people talking.
With the countless online magazines and blogs, YouTube channels, instagram accounts and tumblr pages we are constantly bombarded with an abundance of information, available on any topic. What we do with said information, if we choose to engage in the dialogue around it, and how we use it though, is the important bit. We ingest this data everyday, but the question is, are our thoughts our own and are we casting aside the ability to critically think and discern for ourselves for want to be seen as aligning with popular and or controversial opinion.
As well as other groups, this also applies to this movement of what could be called new age spiritual and conscious thinkers, which I can admit I am a part of. With the internet and the plethora of alternative information, challenging the status quo and offering answers to most questions, if I'm not able to act upon the information I'm provided with and apply this in some practical way, the learning I do is all in vain. If I claim to be "enlightened" but the way I conduct myself and approach life and others doesn't align with the behaviour I believe to be line with right living, all I'm doing is using the information to validate my ego's sense of self.
Oscar Wilde is quoted as saying, "Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else's opinion, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation" and during this time there's an uncomfortable truth to this.
It seems that now we live in a world of external validation where to be liked, retweeted, reblogged and our opinion co-signed is apparently more important than being an individual. In amongst the information, opinions and advice I think its important we remember to constantly cultivate the power of critical thinking and develop our own opinion and views on a subject matter and also remember that in fact, it's fine to not have an opinion on everything, all of the time.
There's a beauty and a quiet confidence in taking time and engaging in the act of thinking for ourselves, informing ourselves and making our own belief systems based on our truth. And if that means we go against popular opinion and we don't get those retweets and likes, well, I'm sure we'll live.