You and the Internet
We are living in a very interesting time. Whereas once we relied on an Encyclopedia to get information, now it’s at the tip of our fingers. Literally, you can type anything into a search engine and get more information than you bargained for. We absorb in every direction: the internet, billboards, magazines, television, movies, and social media sites. We have morphed into sponges, taking in every fact, alternate fact, opinion, instapic, snapchat, tweet, and everything in between. Has this made us more productive? Walk into any coffee shop and you’ll see at least a handful of glossy-eyed patrons staring into their laptops. What are they looking for that they haven’t found yet? What is in that abyss of a screen that promises answers, solutions, and escape? Just…about…everything.
I think it’s great. I think access to information and social networks and insights is a wonderful thing if one can use that information and make a contribution with it. I am not talking about donating to charity type of contribution. I’m talking about learning something constructive and then utilizing that to give something back to society. For example, nowadays one can learn to pay an instrument via Youtube videos. That is amazing! I remember wanting to learn the violin when I was in high school but my parents couldn’t afford lessons. After learning the violin you could volunteer to play at a retirement home. That is a contribution! You have absorbed and contributed and mastered the overflow of information rather than allowing it to master you. Alternatively, if after you have learned the violin you move on to learn another instrument right away, or spend 8 hours/day on a social media web site, then you have been overtaken by the information.
Take a career student for example. This is someone who has the ability to spend 40 years in college picking courses at random just because they want to learn. After 40 years they may know a lot about a lot of different subjects, but they haven’t contributed what they have learned to society. When we use what we know constructively with the objective of impacting our society in a greater way we have created purpose for our lives. In the process we have improved our world. Who doesn’t want to improve the world? If any of you have kids or plan to have kids then I would hope that improving the world is on your agenda! Even if you don’t have kids, don’t you want to live in a better world? Imagine if the Wright brothers learned to fly and then kept it to themselves. Not only would they hold the rest of us up from starting to fly but they themselves would not be able to continue flying. The impact you have on the world, like a boomerang, comes right back to you.
Search, then Act
You are living in your society so it is in your best interested to contribute to it. We are all students of life, and these days of the information super highway. We have the capacity and the ability to learn massive amounts of information in a controlled fashion. We all can be heroes as we are unlimited in what and how much we can learn. It is up to us if we want to remain a sponge and simply absorb everything or if we want to take stock of what we know and start contributing. Bring what you learn to life outside of your screen and share your knowledge with the world. We are drowning in information so lets pause for a moment and step away. Let’s assess if we have absorbed something that we can share. It might not be the violin but it might be an inspiring story that we read about in an online article. Share that story with your family at the dinner table. Bring awareness to yourself when you spend time on the internet and become allies with the information available to you. Strive to balance the act of absorbing and contributing.