I’m a former journalist, and it was my life at one time when I was younger. I was totally caught up in every aspect of news. That career and way of life ended rather abruptly 30 years ago, and I never returned to the profession. However, I still have that intense interest in knowing what’s going on in my hometown, state, nation and the world. Everything interests me. I have always had a widely roving sense of curiosity about people, places, events and happenings “out there” beyond my own little world.
The problem is that where we once had access to a few newspapers and nightly news on TV, now with the Internet there’s exponentially more news, opinion, feature stories, and “content” if you wiIl, than I ever could have imagined in my wildest dreams. It’s literally a continuous cascade of information and stimuli, as is true with the Internet is in general. I try to limit my sources, but I have so many I feel almost compelled to check frequently. This, I realize, can be a real hindrance to spiritual growth and meditation in all its forms, as well as learning in depth. Sometimes the only way I can get away from it is when I’m far off walking in the woods.
The question becomes, “How much do I need to know, and beyond myself, how much do any of us need to know before our brains defensively react to the onslaught?” This question is going to pre-occupy me until I’ve arrived, for the first time ever, at a workable solution. But it’s going to be very difficult because through the various media I read and engage with I feel connected to the pulse of life in these tumultuous times. I feel I must know what is going on in the world because we are all interconnected, whether we like that or not.
When I’m informed, I feel less lonely and insulated. Withdrawing from most of that would create a huge vacuum that I’d have to fill through reading books, reflecting on life, listening to music, meeting people “in real life” instead of living like a hermit, and being too introspective. This would be a very good thing. But the Internet has for years pulled my away from these thing. I’m not blaming the Internet. It’s my conscious decision and I love bouncing around the Web immersing myself, even for just a short time, in all the wonder and riches online.
However, books really are the answer to so many of these questions I’ve posed, but the Internet totally distracts me. Endless YouTube videos, as just one example, pass by in a constant stream, and what am I left with after watching each one, sometimes more than once? A feeling of vague emptiness. This despite the fact that I love being absorbed in YouTubes and find some of them riveting and fascinating, as if a some portal is opening to thoughts, ideas and situations I’ve never cone across before. But again, the pleasure is fleeting and I would struggle to recall what I had just learned. But, I will gladly exchange this type news and opinion for these other types of content. I just have to pull away from the temptation to frequently check the news.
Again, to re-emphasize, books allow the deepest possible engagement with ideas from other minds. This seems incontrovertible to me and so difficult to find the time for in this AGE OF THE INTERNET!
At the same time, it’s unwise to retreat from retreat drastically from the Internet in a quest to delve only into purer, deeper and more enlightened subjects. I really don’t know where to draw the line, but I’m working on it. There has to be a happy medium somewhere.
“The neuroscience of news overload”