Responsibility in the Information Age

As I browse my twitter feed, full of a healthy assortment of trending Vines, sports news, and business articles, I can’t help but feel that my generation (I’m 19) as well as future ones have an extraordinary responsibility that didn’t necessarily exist before. With the tremendous accessibility of information, we have every obligation to be more knowledgeable and aware than our forefathers. In most cases, “I don’t know” is a quick Google search away from resolution.

In the past, there was a price associated with knowledge. Your primary sources for current news, magazines and news subscriptions, all carried a hefty price. Thus, there were financial constraints to information. Nowadays, there are free online reputable news sources with content covering any and every subject. Even traditional news sources have started publishing free online content to compete in what has become a brutally competitive and saturated market. While books certainly aren’t free, eBooks have lowered the price of books — although often only marginally — and significantly increased their accessibility as well. Within minutes, I could have virtually any book downloaded to my mobile device. Even financial constraints to purchasing books can be circumvented through the advent of torrenting and file sharing (not that I’m promoting this behavior). Bottom line, information is freely available and accessible in astounding abundance.

I feel like most of my peers have not realized this awesome reality. Sadly, the increase in useful information has been accompanied by an even greater increase in useless information. My social media news feeds (especially Facebook) are littered with tabloid articles with sensational titles that desperately try to lure in “clicks.” Furthermore, we are now connected to a multitude of social media sites that collectively captivate the short attention span of our generation. I by no means am immune to this captivity, but rather have tried to combat it by following legitimate news sources on my Facebook and Twitter feeds, so that I spend a good portion of my time on social media learning. This isn’t a perfect solution, but it is definitely a better alternative to the two-hour cat video marathon you had last night. Social media has warped from a medium for sharing personal experiences and thoughts to a medium for sharing trending content, so it’s crucial to manage that content wisely to maintain a relevant news feed.

I hope that I don’t come off as condescending — that definitely was not my intention. This passage shouldn’t be a revelation for anyone. It’s obvious information is pervasive. I wrote this seeking to encourage my generation and future generations to harness the wealth of information at our disposals. We have a responsibility to be avid learners, because now more than ever, learning is free, accessible, and effortless. Embrace your passions — no matter what they are. Let us leave a legacy of learning for our children.