Wasn’t the Internet Supposed to Make Us All Better Informed?
Yes… but no.
Take this 2016 “presidential” election as an example. This election will be decided primarily based upon what undecided voters in swing states find more appalling: deleting emails or sexual assault. That’s a really pathetic way to decide upon the future direction of the greatest democracy in the history of the world.
We have the most “informed” citizenry ever, yet we’re the closest we’ve ever been to “Idiocracy.”
Why the disconnect?
Because shallow surface information, even in large quantities, doesn’t create substantive deep understanding; and our newfound 24/7 barrage of real-time updates is mostly irrelevant semi-factual surface information.
This quote sums it up perfectly:
“To understand reality is not the same as to know about outward events.
It is to perceive the essential nature of things.
The best-informed man is not necessarily the wisest. Indeed there is a danger that precisely in the multiplicity of his knowledge he will lose sight of what is essential. But on the other hand, knowledge of an apparently trivial detail quite often makes it possible to see into the depth of things. And so the wise man will seek to acquire the best possible knowledge about events, but always without becoming dependent upon this knowledge.
To recognize the significant in the factual is wisdom.”
— Dietrich Bonhoeffer
I believe we would make far better choices as a society if we put more focus on understanding the deep underlying structure of things.