21 January 2008

When I'm Alone at Night Like This

I can look out my window, beyond the monitor screen and keyboard, and know the weather.  I don't really need the computer to tell there is a light, powdery snow out there and it's cold, but if I'm curious as to exactly HOW cold, I can strike a click or two and discover that it's below zero (windchill-wise) if I want to interrupt myself from thinking to have something to be concerned with.  That's our modern age... instant access, instant anxiety.
Knowledge today isn't really power.  It's an encumbrance.  It becomes additional baggage that won't fit in the overhead compartment.  Exactly why we think we need more and more of it all the time is a bit of a mystery, but we do.
What's going on, who's doing who, what when and where... I guess it makes us feel like we fit into the puzzle in some way if we KNOW things.  But things move so fast you can't just know what is or was, you must also keep track of what may be, these days, or risk getting trampled in the human herd.
But many choose not to live this way.  One fellow I met at a restaurant a few days back was a little ironic about why.  "I'd worry about the stock market more," he said, "but I can't afford the time."  The sheer effort of being informed about his investments exhausted him, and so he basically pulled the plug and left his fortune to the winds.  If the bulls gored him or the bears clawed him, well, it was no longer his affair.  It was now Fate's call.
The Information Age is pushing us all around, and we don't have any real way to push back anymore.  So, we have to "go with the flow", exactly like a drowning man in a swift river.  With all this additional knowledge we don't understand anything anymore.  We are buried in the avalanche on its way down the mountain, so many pebbles and rocks.
Why does the price of gas go up?  Who knows the why, though we do know that it does.  We don't understand what we know!   It's odd.  So odd.


Mary Stebbins Taitt said...

Knowledge these days is definitely a burden. Hard to be a Renaissance man or woman when there is just too much to be known. I read a cool book though that kind of made one think about the options. It was a kids book by Nancy Farmer, The Ear, the Eye and the Arm.laqu

ImperfectNerd said...

One fellow who had things that SHOULD be known... Jacques Cousteau. He wrote many books but his last one was "The Human, the Orchid, and the Octopus", an excellent and entertaining read that says important things about the costs of nuclear energy and environmental disturbances. Definitely a must-read!