In a world where our awareness of all that’s “wrong” is forever increasing, how are we to manage? Is a reality filled with constant revelations of human or systemic shortcoming on the global scale something the mind or heart can truly withstand?
Notions of “staying informed” clearly arose in times where that entailed relatively slow-paced news with limited scope. It’s presumably much more manageable to receive updates once or twice a day, delivered in fairly neutral and assertive tones. Ignorance is bliss, essentially: not being made aware of things you’re perhaps powerless to influence; retaining the psychological security to carry on with daily living.
These days, we live in another world of relentless, chattering drama. This incessant flow of voices all talking over one another trying to grab our attention and call us to some form of action (Notes One). And, in many ways, that’s a far better scenario: ignorance is a strange sort of bliss that evidently allows all sorts of things to go on away from the watchful eye of almost everybody.
But can we listen to it all? Are our minds capable of processing that much information? Even if we strip away all the frivolous or purely commercial activity, is this a volume of knowledge we’re able to take in and assimilate meaningfully alongside the challenges of everyday life? What kind of stress and strain is that going to place on our nervous system, cognitive capacity or general well-being?
It’s incredible to think how humans have never existed in a way that’s even remotely comparable to modern, Western society. This immediacy of interconnectedness and vastness of all we’re now drawn into: global economic systems with powerful, hidden impacts; conversations that cross all cultural boundaries with our fiery judgements of what’s acceptable in life (Notes Two).
How are we to stay sane in such a world? Even if we’d developed perfect awareness and communication skills within our national communities, bridging the gap between those limited interests and all the points they intersect with the economic or cultural concerns of others would be an incredible challenge. It’s mind-blowing to think of all that’s flowing together in the wonderful melting-pot of the modern world.
In light of that, do we simply plough on? Confident in ourselves as capable adults, we attempt to juggle all that’s thrown at us while tuning out every unnecessary distraction that’s coming along with it. Such a ceaseless onslaught seems almost impossible for anyone to manage long-term.
Especially considering the path we’re apparently taking: given the opportunity technology’s offering, everyone naturally wants to use it to their advantage. Every area of life – society, relationships, industry, news, culture – wants to be heard, leading to this strange reality of “who can shout loudest” or various other tactics for hooking our attention and distracting us from other things.
Are we in “boy who cried wolf” territory here? Might it be wiser to dial things down a little so we’re actually able to discuss those things that truly do matter?
Notes and References:
Note 1: Desensitised to all we’re told?
Note 1: Value in being informed
Note 1: Powerful responsibility of a media voice
Note 1: Who should we trust?
Note 1: And, how much can we care?
Note 2: Working through mind & society
Note 2: Right to look out for ourselves?
Note 2: What are our moral judgements?
Note 2: All we want to do passes through community
Note 2: Can others join you?
One seemingly quite wise approach to managing modern life could well be The idea of think globally, act locally.