THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING YOU’LL EVER READ! I DON’T KNOW IF IT’S GOOD OR BAD! IT DOESN’T MATTER BECAUSE IT’S REALLY, REALLY IMPORTANT! THAT’S WHY IT’S IN BOLD-FACED CAPITAL LETTERS, SO YOU’LL KNOW IT’S IMPORTANT! SEE ALL THE EXCLAMATION POINTS? NO?! THEN YOU’RE NOT PAYING ATTENTION! COME ON! WAKE UP! THIS IS IMPORTANT!!!
I made up a word. Then I made up a phenomenon to go with it. The word and the phenomenon are hyperinformationalism. They’re illustrated by the paragraph above. They refer to the fact that we’ve become of a race of knee-jerk artists — constantly and reflexively twitching under the relentless onslaught of information with which we’re constantly bombarded. And they confirm this truism: When everything’s important, nothing’s important.
I made up a theory, too;
We spend so much time inflicting so much information on ourselves from so many electronic sources, we’ve mistaken ourselves for computers.
We think we’re the same sort of objective, dispassionate, unemotional accessing mechanisms as those amalgams of chips, processors, transducers, capacitors, and wires. But we’re not. And we’re suffering for it.
This is why, from the youngest age I can remember — I grew up at a time in which the dissemination of information was the exclusive provinces of newspapers, radio, and television — I never paid attention to the news. The reason? It’s too new.
We can react to news, but we can’t know all of its implications. We can only know its ramifications over time. The news can soothe or cause panic, but it can’t reveal which reaction is warranted and why. The news can tell us what happened, but it can’t tell us what, if anything, we should do about it. It can’t tell us what will happen. Knowing what will happen as a consequence of any news item was always more important to me than what someone else was telling me had happened. It still is. The age of hyperinformationalism has only created more opportunities for us to react to the superficial and the trivial.
Have we lost our ability to ponder and to ask critical, analytical, discerning questions? It seems as if we’ve lost it or surrendered it. Have we lost time? I don’t know. But I do know it seems so.
Just when we might engage in discriminating contemplation, we’re overwhelmed by the next wave of brute input so raw it can’t even be considered information. Awash in that wave with its potential to stifle reason and to stimulate beyond comprehension, we have a choice: Ignore it all until any items of any import roll forth in another wave — or react to all of it instantaneously: Good. Bad. Hopeful. Fearful. Important. Trivial. All of it.
A twitching knee has no reason. It reacts on impulse. In the manic, agitated trance of hyperinformationalism, so do we.
Thanks to hyperinformationalism, we’re bidden to forego relaxation and contemplation. We’re endlessly tempted to abandon our capacities for reflection, for examination, for questioning and discernment, for taking our time and communicating meaningfully and substantively. We’ve raised our expectations of our abilities to absorb and comprehend beyond sense and sanity.
One man’s deluge is not another man’s meaningful information. So, why not take it easy?
Buck the trend. Turn down the volume. Skip the so-called news. Create meaning. Let it reflect and differentiate you. Give people a chance to absorb it. Make it good enough that they want (to learn) more (from or about you). Don’t flood, trickle. Don’t scream, communicate quietly and directly.
IT’S THE ONLY WAY THE PEOPLE WITH WHOM WE COMMUNICATE WILL EVER BE ABLE TO DECIDE FOR THEMSELVES WHAT’S REALLY, REALLY IMPORTANT!!!