Information Overload and The Art of Forgetfulness

As usual, this post has been inspired by a serindipitous insight.  As you know, I do not enjoy taking time to edit and much prefer simply writing as the thoughts come along.  This post shall not disappoint.  

The first insight I had today occurred while going through my massive amount of daily news.  What occurred has come to my mind before and came very forcefully today.  What became apparent to me is that 90% of the things I read are simply “noise.”  

I feel addicted to my news articles.  I scan through the New York Times, The Economist, USA Today, Google News, Bloomberg and so on almost daily.  Even though I read so much am I really learning anything?  

It feels as if I’m sifting through a wide and deep river but only coming up with a lot of sand and only on occasion a flake of gold.  It is when I do my research and find an excellent book that I feel I have discovered a gold mine.  

My most recent gold mine was Thomas Paine’s “The Age of Reason.”  I’ve wrote about this in the previous post and have no intention of repeating myself here.  Before that my gold bar was 1001 nights. It seemed to me like the Arabic version of Grimm’s Fairytales.  I was familiar with all the Western tales but it wasn’t until I read One Thousand and One Nights that I laid down the groundwork to understanding Arabic culture.  It is quite refreshing to start learning another culture by what the children learn instead of jaded opinions from foreign cultures.  Children after all start with no bias.  Bias is learned, taught to them by adults.  

How interesting that we now have Aladdin from Walt Disney yet the Americans have most recently decided to hold a hearing on Muslims in the USA.  Perhaps they should have subpoenaed Aladdin and have him fly in on his magic carpet?  

As usual I have gotten off track.  My point is that most of the things we read on a daily basis are simply noise, the articles provide no real learning.  The reason for this is that news/entertainment companies are under constant pressure to come up with new content.  Every single day there must be something new to report.  What we get is a “this happened here” such as with USA Today.  If you read a bit further with good magazines like the Economist you may be able to dig a bit further.  But even magazines like the Economist only scratch the surface.  

So what would I like to see?

I would like a publication that has an immortal as an editor.  This person has lived for 50,000 years and has experienced it all before.  What I’m getting now resembles a young child trying to ride a bike.  This reporter knows how to get on it and maybe peddle one pedal.  However, an immortal would know how to work both peddles, turn the wheel, dodge bumps in the road, fix the bike should it break and tell me how the bike is actually built.  

I guess this thought comes from listening to populist politicians who manipulate the energy and issues of the day.  The reporters as well only have a hind sight of 1 mile and can see nothing of the road ahead in heavy fog.  

I want a sage, or as Don Quixote puts it, a veritable Solomon.  Solomon was seen as a prophet but what I have recently learned is that prophet may mean “to authorize singing human compositions with musical instruments.”  In “The Age of Reason” Paine points out that this word used to mean simply making music so when people used to “prophesize” they were simply singing.  

By this example, I’m illustrating what I would like to see in a daily publication.  I want insight, I want history and I want an explanation that spans all human knowledge.  I want a big fat nugget of gold every time I decide to read an article, not just a bunch of sand that tells me nothing other than there is sand under the river.  

I want to know how the sand got there, I want to know what it is made of and from where it came.  And if it is a most excellent article, I want to know where the sand is going.  I want to know what the original meaning of “sand” is.  Currently, all I get is, “There is sand here.”  

Forgetfulness 

The more I read and the more I learn I find it simply astounding how quickly we forget the past.  We now have universities, great institutions of learning, yet why is it that we never really understand history? 

We read about the atrocities of the past, but how many people really *feel* those atrocities.  We read about entire cultures being wiped out but we never really internalize the gravity of the horrific act.  How many of us can put ourselves into the lives of those destroyed by the conquering power?  

If you read the bible it is full of death and destruction.  You have Judah vs. Israel and it claims the destruction of one was due to the will of God?  Why is it that even today the victor, the leader of nations will often claim that God has chosen them specifically to lead?  

Time and time again, as I read history, the destruction of an entire group of people was due to “The Will of God?”  

How many of us can put ourselves into the mindset and lives of those that were slaughtered?  

Or do we simply say that the act was in the past and we are much more sophisticated and enlightened now? 

This brings me to my next point. 

If we were to look back 500 years and condemn the Spaniards for destroying the Mexica, the Americans for destroying the Natives, and the Natives for destroying those that came before them, what will people 500 years from now say about us?  

Again, we consider ourselves extremely sophisticated and look upon those that lived 500 years ago as not being “humanitarian,” as being “sub-intelligent.”  If we can do that now, then again, what will people 500 years from now say about us? 

With all our education, with the complete sum of human knowledge that the internet brings us, why can we not recognize our faults as they happen?  

Why can we not understand that loving each other is the true path?  

Why do we continually find faults and actively strive to find differences in order to condemn others?  

Why is it that many feel so uncomfortable around people that are different from them?

Instead, we read the news, learn to solidify our bias and feel intelligent when we can point out how our hatreds and bias are justified based on the little we think we know? 

Perhaps it is due to all this knowledge on the internet and my insatiable curiosity to continually want to learn more. 

To illustrate I recently found a piece of music called “Saltarello.” 

But I am not satisfied with just listening to the music.  I want to know what Saltarello means.  I want to know the culture it comes from.  I learn it comes from the Kingdom of Naples and I want to know how this Kingdom was formed and what happened to it.  I also want to know what the dance steps are.  I want to know where it was played and who composed it.  I want to know how “Saltar” came to mean what it means!  What language does it originate from?  What sounds did humans make that eventually came to form the word!  

I feel that this kind of curiosity is lacking in the world today.  We are content to simply listen to the music and express if “we like it” or not.  

*Side Note: *In America the thought would be how to make money off the piece.*  

Again, with all our learning and access to information where has the curiosity gone?  Why are we so content and happy with whatever *new* drivel the news organizations decide to tells us about, especially when the news is bereft of real historical and wise insight?  

To be addicted to the news as I am is akin to a Koala bear eating Eucalyptus leaves.  Sure, I eat a lot but I am getting very little nutrition .  


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Author: Mateo de Colón

Global Citizen! こんにちは!僕の名前はマットです. Es decir soy Mateo. Aussi, je m'appelle Mathieu. Likes: Languages, Cultures, Computers, History, being Alive! (^.^)/