Do you ever feel like you know too much? Like there are things that you know about but don’t affect your life in any sort of meaningful way? I feel this way regularly. I hear about and know so much that sometimes I wonder if it’s a good thing.
Victor Hugo in Les Miserables got me thinking this way when he unknowingly describes our times as well as his own. He writes:
We live in times of terrible confusion. We do not know that which is necessary to and know that which we should ignore.
All day long I’ve been carrying around a device that can access nearly ALL of humanity’s accumulated knowledge and it all fits in my pocket. Social media, the news, friends and family, and strangers all have input into what I apparently need to know and be concerned about.
Connect what Hugo writes with Neil Postman in Amusing Ourselves To Death:
Most of our daily news is inert, consisting of information that gives us something to talk about but cannot lead to any meaningful action.
These two statements seem to perfectly describe this “Information Age.” I know that I spend way too much time and mental energy knowing things that do not affect me and cannot lead to any meaningful action. For instance, I know what Kayne did yesterday , that Kate Middleton wore a colorful scarf, it’s really cold in the mid-west (duh), there’s turmoil in the Middle East, and that a Lebron James’s feelings were hurt when Phil Jackson referred to him and his friends as a “posse.”
I’m going to be really honest here: none, LITERALLY NONE of this knowledge causes me to alter my daily plans, gives me insight to a problem I’m working on, or can lead to any meaningful action on my part. When was the last time any kind of similar info lead to any kind of meaningful action in you life? Has it ever? Chances are, it hasn’t and never will.
I find it weird that I know what Kate Middleton is wearing but I cannot for the life of me remember the names of the people that live right next to me. They’ve told me and I always forget which name goes with which person. I don’t think that I’m the only person in this boat.
I just want to be the kind of person who can take productive action on the things I know and care about. When I confuse myself with inert knowledge, this is impossible. These times are terribly confusing. It’s hard to know what to focus on and ignore. This is one of the challenges I’m facing. I’m trying to become a discerning person who can focus on things that actually matter and make a difference in my life and the lives of those around me. It’s hard. Like super hard. But I think it’s worth the struggle.