Knowing more.. Or knowing less

Ever got the nagging feeling that when in he middle of a conversation about something, you touch upon certain facts and figures, only to realize that you may be wrong? You are then likely to whip up your smartphone and enter your query to find the actual number. Well, think about your state of mind when you elucidated your opinion peppered with the data because you believed strongly in it, and because you knew you could find the data in short shift if only you looked. That bit of irresponsibility, leading to a guess estimate and finger in the air exercise, does tell you a lot about the nonchalance that’s increasingly seeping into our thought process as more and more of the information are being processed by our kind every second. This fire hose of information is leaving behind a trail of confused minds who have been primed to voice their opinions at the drop of the hat.

Ever been in a conversation, talking about business, politics, philosophy, pop culture – no scratch that last topic, when you realize that whatever you and others party to that conversation are talking about, presents only about 10% of the story? That is, that the opinions and the judgement that we pass along, is predicated on a knowledge platform that is only but a fraction of the complete picture.  Further, you have an idea in your head that there are so many people with access to better information, better processing acumen and better sense of empathy who can and do understand this simple-yet-complex situation much better. That leaves a sour taste to the whole conversation because you know your mind isn’t in it. You know that what you hoped would be something more than a small talk is actually worse than that. And yet, as social beings, we do and we have to indulge in conversations such as these because there is no other way we can find a suitable outlet for the opinions we have formed. Or maybe you can write a blogpost on it knowing that it will lie forever in that dungeon of anonymity.

While conversations are net positive, it is only so when you have taken pains to ensure it does not fall into the trap of self-reinforcing biases. Being responsible  about the little nugget of information you have gleaned about the topic in contention – through reading or through observing,  is the first step towards keeping it constructive. Reserving final judgements for, like never, lets you keep an open mind regardless of who won the argument or who was the loudest of them all.

We should indeed make an effort towards understanding how the information we have has been generated. Being mindful of this, through segmenting the acquired from the observed, through differentiating between an opinion read versus an opinion derived etc. goes a long way towards ensuring that we are responsible with the information that we have entrusted with.

Imagine what would have transpired if gollum had known the reason behind his coveting of the ring. “He loved and hated it, as he loved and hated himself” – LOTR. Knowing the power of the instrument you wield – which in our case is the technology that enables such vast processing of information, would be the essential first step towards restricting its degenerative elements from seeping into our psyche.

What prompted this:

This is your brain online

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