Thinking about what it means to be human, what are we to make of all the information now at our fingertips? Looking back to what “news” used to be, it really seems modern life’s expecting a lot from us in terms of processing large volumes of data, opinion and argument. Something few before “us” ever needed to deal with.
If we imagine that news was generally a fairly sporadic or local affair, the amount we’re now faced with seems almost incredible to comprehend (Notes One). In the place of limited, deliberate voices speaking about current affairs, we’ve got countless sources, agendas and perspectives vying for our attention at every moment. Our picture of the world constantly shifting, changing, updating.
What are we supposed to make of it? Given how much of all we’re told is about things we’ve got remarkably little influence over, what kind of outcome can we hope for? Beyond awareness and concern, we might attempt to shape our economic or political decisions in such a way that they become constructive forces for change. Within our social circle, we might try to spread awareness and shape others’ thinking.
Often, though, it seems almost paralysing: an inundation of insight into events far beyond our control that can easily leave us feeling completely powerless, resigned and frustrated at the state of this world (Notes Two). Becoming aware of everything, the world over, from every side is a momentous task; piecing together how separate events and attitudes feed into wider patterns can be as enlightening as it is depressing.
How are we to hold, in our minds, an ever-changing picture of events – from the local and personal all the way up to the global – then transform that into constructive, purposeful responses within our everyday lives? Sometimes it seems more likely to make us feel our own existence to be futile and insignificant compared with all that’s happening and our inability to affect change on the levels at which problems exist (Notes Three).
If we’re taking in information about things that we’re powerless to change, what’s happening “within us”? All this thought, concern or anger sparked by what we take in presumably wants to go somewhere. Learning about things in our local environment, avenues for involvement may be clearer; when news is remote and complicated, we’re perhaps just left with this ball of fruitless emotion.
Is it that we’re supposed to receive things with the right kind of feeling? Accompanying this mental reflection of life with sentiments appropriate to the situation so we stand “rightly” in relation to reality. Rather than gleefully or despairingly observing what bears little direct relation to us, bringing compassionate interest to the whole human community and all the ways our lives touch upon others.
Maybe awareness is simply a slow-burning sense of us all being present with the world’s journey? This ongoing discussion we’re all part of that, hopefully, extends the right thoughts and feelings towards those involved while strengthening and underlining our values in the process.
Notes and References:
Note 1: What is the public conversation?
Note 1: Reading between the lines
Note 1: Information might be there, but can we find it?
Note 2: Overwhelm and resignation
Note 2: Problems & the thought that created them
Note 3: Whether we make a difference
Note 3: Too much responsibility?
Note 3: Life’s never been simpler…
Note 3: What it is to be human
Alongside such thoughts, there are some parallels to “The Measure of a Man” from back in 2018.