Why NOT be an Information Sponge?

ellen rhymes
May 5 · 2 min read

As a lifelong learner, you’ve probably been described as an ‘information sponge.’ But is that a good thing to be?

As an organism, this simple creature barely makes it into the Animal Kingdom. It does not have a circulatory, nervous, or digestive system: It’s heartless, brainless, and unable to actively process what it consumes. It behaves the same way on Mount Fuji as in your local sewer system.

I think — or at least hope — this is not a good metaphor for my relationship with information!

Of course, we all absorb a lot of information involuntarily — so, in that sense, we’re all information sponges. But when it comes to conscious, intentional consumption & processing of information, I’d like to think we’ve all evolved beyond the sponge.

My larger point is this:

In this chapter of history called the Information Age, there’s a lot of pressure to absorb a really, really high volume of information. This pressure is ubiquitous — and that’s what makes it dangerous. It is dangerous because the more information you need to process in your life, the more quickly you need to process it, and the more quickly you try to process high volumes of information, the more likely you are to make mistakes (unless you’re really skillful). This is true not only for individuals, but also for societies.

So, for this reason, I currently believe that each of us must move away from the ‘information sponge’ mindset and try to develop a more nuanced relationship with information.

Do you agree? If yes, what do you think this more ‘evolved’ relationship with information looks like?

ellen rhymes

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Writer, editor, writing coach, optimist. My home base is ellenrhymes.com.