The Information Age.
We are neck deep in it, but…are we getting any information?
Data? Enough data points to create a set on which to base any decisions?
We hear, read and see a lot of things, on social media, TV and the radio (for those still listening) but do we get anything out of it?
Are we simply going from one lazy narrative to the next?
If it isn’t useful information or anything resembling data, then what is it?
An endless babble of hasty assumptions, political talking points and looping chatter front loaded with ready made arguments from entrenched positions.
The latest example of this phenomenon occurred all of last week (and continues into this week). I’m talking about the tragedy and murder in Boston. Even those two works come prepackaged with prejudices. I has to step away from the television for most of the week, avoid clicking on certain YouTube channels and simply gloss over hundreds of tweets and tumblr posts.
It is not that I did not care about the victims but I simply could not process the noise. I wanted as clear a picture of what happened as possible, establish some facts to ground my understanding of events. I could not do that with all the noise that choked the airways and interwebs.
Yet the media spun about like they were the falconer searching for the falcon. The faster they spun, the more the spoke, the less they said. Throw in a dozen extremist politicians and a hundred wacko pundits and the noise turned into a tornado of useless idiocy, a bonfire of the absurd. While a city tried to come to grips with the events, families mourned and the police investigated, every one else glued their eyeballs to a screen and drank in the madness.
The bombing was terror, fear made real. So was the coverage. Images, soundbites, talking points, they are all part of our fear made real, and as long as it is in front of us, we can manage it. But in the silence of our own thoughts, in the recesses of our individual minds and collective reasoning, the silence turns deafening.
Fear takes hold.
Knowing something, anything is better than to contemplate in solitude what may be happening. The absence of exterior stimuli excites the imagination. Admit it, most of us don’t like what our imagination can spew forth. Not one bit. But if we are to defeat terror we must be able to reconquer our inner spheres, stake a claim to our mindscapes and process the information, the real data points within a calm environment.
Easy? Of course not! But try we must, lest we be swept away by the noise.
Something to think about the next time terror comes knocking on our doors.