The other night my roommate made a subtle but profound statement about life.He said,
“There is so much useless information in the world that makes it hard to find the information that’s actually useful.”
This quote arose from a brief conversation about the internet, and how it is the greatest invention of man but also potentially the downfall of man.
It is remarkable how a simple quote can change the overall perception of a person’s immediate experience. One word even can change how a person views life and how they live it. But exactly what changes when they hear something like this? The answer ranges from nothing to everything. The fundamental difference is what someone does with this information.
It has the power to change someone’s life, but could also go in one ear and out the other. A person could take this information and apply it to their lives, for example: unplug from all mass media in general (television, social networks, radio, etc.), but if not then this information ironically becomes, you guessed it: useless.
The things that famous people do on a daily basis are a perfect example of information that is useless to the typical citizen, even though people eat it up without hesitation. People would rather keep up with the Kardashians than keep up with their own lives.
People are so quick to jump on trends that have absolutely nothing to do with them. Besides dance crazes and comical twitter trending topics, we as millennials love to engage in especially negative things that persist with the consistent attention we give it.
Why do you think news networks and tabloids make so much money? We’re practically handing it to them not even thinking about what we’re doing to ourselves. Feeding ourselves with pointless information like how many albums Drake sold in one week or who Becky with the good hair is. Pop culture is just a business, and a booming one.
I wouldn’t write about this if I wasn’t aware of it or engaged in this behavior as well, but we as a species have this ability that is just as helpful to us as it is harmful: the ability to think.
People have around 60,000 thoughts a day on average, and that number only increases with the more useless information that is presented to them. It is extremely difficult for a person to sit in silence and not be eager to find some form of distraction from their thoughts. It is also very difficult to sit with something whether it be a movie, a song, or even a celebrity’s outfit and not voice an opinion about it. I believe people are genuinely afraid to not think, why? Because it threatens their identity.
People often look for their identity outside of themselves. The music they listen to, the TV shows they watch, their favorite colors; people think that’s what defines them. When you try to define yourself it presents no chances of personal evolution.
Knowing yourself is not the same as knowing who you are. Claiming to know who you are implies that you have learned everything about yourself. Knowing yourself implies that learning about yourself is never-ending. This is the useful information that is necessary for every one of us.
How do we teach ourselves though? Living. Realizing that we enter and leave this world alone. Realizing that the trivial things we fill our heads with don’t improve our quality of life. I’m not saying that this useless information is hurting us, but it certainly isn’t helping.
Social media has a way of keeping us connected on a global scale, but what good is it really doing for us? The majority of social network users use their personal profiles purely for self-gratification and to seek attention from their peers. Usually they will only post their highlights on Facebook, Instagram, etc. in hopes of feeling acceptance and belonging with the general community that is the internet. So the debate is whether we can use these inevitable changes in our experience to better ourselves or create false images of ourselves that we will ultimately never live up to.
In a way, by absorbing all this useless information, you inevitably become useless. And vice-versa, the same goes for absorbing useful information. That information is what you are, it never leaves, it doesn’t judge, and it certainly isn’t anybody’s business but your own.
Especially after taking a course in human computer interaction this past semester, I know the potentials of technological advancement and it is not slowing down anytime soon. We though, as humans, have a responsibility to maintain order in society and not let i-Robot happen in real life. But then again, artificial intelligence could never exist without human intelligence.
I guess what I’m trying to get across is that most things that matter to society, are useless, and everything that matters to you, is useful.
Thank you Sam Gatz for the inspiring quote.