Over on my new fave tech/news site, Ars Technica, a interesting opinion piece has been published. Basically the author chronicles a back and forth blog exchange between a more classic journalist and “futurist” on whether we are being consumed by the amount of information that is presented to us. Is the constant information hampering our ability to make sense of any of it?
In an age of instant information like Twitter and the ever domineering presence of Facebook, it may be easy to write this off as nothing more than exaggerating the benefits of how things were in the “old days” versus our current frontier. There is more to it than that simple superficial take though.
How many people spend hours on Facebook reading about friends rather than doing things with friends? I am certainly guilty of this and I also don’t believe that this was ever so prevalent in the past. On the flip side, it seems to me that fewer people just park in front of the TV, rather they are sitting there with a laptop or phone “multi-tasking” or maybe they are using the TV or computer to watch a movie or play a game. Is there really that much value to most of this stuff? Why do we spend so much time on this type of activity? Because it is easy, cheap and convenient? What human need is this fulfilling?
Time is incredibly precious and it is mind boggling that we spend so much time on this stuff. On the other hand, don’t we go to school and work so that we can do “what we want to do” in our free time? Who is to judge that reading a novel or playing a video game or going to a park and taking some photographs of trees are activities or reading about someone elses adventures doing these things on Facebook are “better” or “worse” ways to spend this supposed free time?
I agree that we are faced with information overload. I agree this could be a bad thing. There are a lot of big important activities going on everyday that many don’t participate in (local government, education, etc.) that could benefit from extra input.
That doesn’t change the fact that I also want to go home and spend a few hours playing Mass Effect.