Saturday, October 17, 2009


In a world where everyone demands immediate satisfaction and sustained thought on a single subject seems to be an anachronism, it is enough to wonder if we are losing our ability to further increase our knowledge without the use of technological tools. In an era where information is no further away than the nearest wi-fi connection and opinions are increasingly being substituted for facts, it is enough to wonder if we are actually increasing the boundaries of our knowledge or if we are content with what we already know and possess and simply going through the paces of expanding our learning.

The internet has been a wonderful invention in many regards. It has increased the speed with which information can be shared and created a much larger audience for that information. It has shrunk the world to a dimension heretofore unknown in human history and reduced the importance of national boundaries in almost every way imaginable. It has granted us a sense of independence from leaders who would alter the truth to a limited point of view. But it also has negative aspects. The speed with which information can be shared has reduced the opportunity for confirming that the information is correct or valid, thereby increasing the possibility of incorrect information being spread which could potentially have very negative consequences. Events that previously may have been limited to a single location and whose impact might have only been local or even regional are now spread around the world, increasing the damage that can be done to those involved. It has also imposed upon us a sense of dependence for information that would otherwise be impossible to obtain. Finally, it has reduced the power of logical, rational and coherent thought to something that must be compressed into 140 characters or a three minute YouTube video.

It is the loss of actual thinking that is most worrisome. It is easy to put up a blog entry on the internet on most any subject in 10 minutes. There are no limits and no boundaries on the subject material. Likewise, there are no constraints on accuracy, truth or facts. While there are a great many blogs that cover subjects such as the state of affairs in many authoritarian nations, climate change, political and economic corruption, new scientific theories, technology or cultural exchanges of ideas, there are an equal number - if not greater - of subjects that cover reality tv shows, conspiracy theories, favorite pets, bogus or disproven scientific theories or the underlying meaning behind the movie "The Matrix". The overwhelming amount of information that must be waded through, particularly when trying to perform actual research related to educational or reporting endeavors, makes it increasingly difficult to provide a valid analysis of the subject. There is very little that a few keywords entered into Google or Bing cannot return a multitude of potential results which must then be sifted through. Indeed, the sheer mountain of potential information available means that the amount of time devoted to actual thinking is reduced in order to sift through relevant material. And the reduced thinking will lead to either incorrect assumptions or the inability to see new possibilities - neither of which bodes well for the intended purpose in particular nor society as a general whole.

Frankly, it is worrying that American society, which was created from the independent thinking and creativity of men who sought a different way of life from that which existed prior and up to their time, now seems to spend its time under the dangerous belief that it has reached - and even is - the pinnacle of its existence. While America has achieved a great deal in a remarkable span of several hundred years, there is still a great deal that can and should be achieved. But to attain those new levels, we must start to think again and focus on that which is important.

Of course, you should take what I say with a grain of salt. After all, I am just a guy writing a blog entry...

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