Just how much information does a person have to have?
My dad asked me that when he was nearly 85 years old and we were discussing whether he would like to have a computer.
He read the newspaper. He read articles about anything that interested him. He once read about beekeepers, and before long he was one. He read from the set of encyclopedias he bought us when I was in the sixth grade. When I reminded him that some of the countries had changed names and boundaries, he said, “I know, and if I want to know more I’ll find out more.”
Now we hear, read and see more than we ever thought possible, and sometimes it is nearly instantaneous. My husband thinks getting the news about an event so quickly is opening the door to errors. I agree. News agencies are so worried about being first to report, mistakes are made. Even after they’re corrected, with the influx of facts, it is difficult to remember what was reported correctly.
An 80-year-old woman I know who calls herself a “news hound” says she waits two days after a big story to take it all in. “I don’t want to read it or see it or hear it until the facts are straight. Let’s not be in such a hurry,” she said.
Not only is the information coming at us at breakneck speed, there’s just so much of it. And it’s not all local and international news; think of Facebook and Twitter and Instagram and whatever else is out there. Oh yeah, the Snapchat thing.
People live with their phones in their hands. Some studies have shown that social networking that requires time, thought and energy adds stress to our lives. Name one person who needs more stress.
Many of my friends are astounded that I’m not on Facebook. Actually I’m on it, but I look at it only about every three months. The only reason I’m on it at all is I attended a seminar on social networking, and I was the only person in the room without a Facebook page. To me, it’s sort of overwhelming. At one time, I had nearly 1,000 friend requests and didn’t know what to do, so I didn’t do anything. I’m sorry if you wanted to be Facebook friends and I ignored you. Please don’t take it personally.
Do you find once you start looking at Facebook, a ridiculous amount of time goes by and you haven’t accomplished anything? I can’t refrain from commenting, so then people think I’m actually going to be active on Facebook and look at it. And I do. Every three months.
I text, but sometimes even that will drive you up a tree, especially when there are several people talking to you on the same text (I’m sure there’s a name for that, but I can’t think of it). I especially love it when people who aren’t in your contacts chime in, and you have no idea who it is. That’s the best way to confuse a situation. News and information should not come from so many sources.
E-mail is my favorite, even though I will be called a dinosaur for saying that.
Remember when everyone was talking about the “information superhighway”? Now that highway seems to be 20 lanes wide and infinitely long.
Yes, Google is a good thing. Suri is a dear friend, and the amount of information at our fingertips is astounding. But while it is can be helpful and convenient, it’s not all good.
We start our days by reading and hearing sad and bad local, national and world news. We breathe a sigh of relief when a fun or quirky story is in the paper or on the news. It’s great when a news story we’ve been following has a happy ending.
It probably varies with each of us just how much news we want to absorb. Decide for yourself before you become overwhelmed, depressed or stressed out. Figure out how to balance your information intake.
Yes, we need to be in the know. But like Dad said, just how much information does a person have to have?
He never did get a computer, but he was well-informed until the day he died.
Reach Bonnie Bing at firstname.lastname@example.org.