Living in modern society today, we often do not think about the astounding amount of information we consume on a daily basis. With desktops/laptops, smart phones, tablets and the like, we are interconnected to a steady stream of texts, tweets, updates, emails and everything else that the Internet to offer. Just the volume of information generated (transmitted and received) by each of us, is huge. In comparison to just a few years back (let alone the birth of the world wide web), some smart phone users today consume more data in the span of a month, then some households with a desktop computer and a broadband Internet connection just a few years ago.
And the average “wired” digital footprint, I would guess has likely doubled, if not tripled, with the introduction of Netflix, youtube, torrents and other bandwidth-intensive services. The amount of information that is available to us, is absolutely staggering.
Take a person I know, who told me that they had collected just under a terabyte of anime, in a little over a year (this is not counting other stuff). To me, that was a bit of a holy shit moment (I don’t think I transmit or receive that amount of information IN TOTAL (texts, calls, all web activities) in a year). And there are plenty of iphone users that I know, that have unlimited caps because they regularly blew over their 1gig monthly cap.
The Internet is bursting at the seams , with helpful, useful and otherwise educational data that can keep anyone with any interests and/or hobbies amused. But there is also a glut of useless information, not to mention misinformation.
Unfortunately, when I (and anyone really) look around and see how most people are using the Internet today, its usually not to further their intelligence and knowledge. Most of the time, its to check facebook, twitter, instagram, watch 6 second stupid videos. And those that do any looking, are usually searching out useless information like pop culture news or sports stats.
Sure, there is nothing wrong with useless information, in moderation. Everyone has hobbies and interests that keep their lives interesting. I do not fault people for that.
But it is when this information, is the sole information that one seeks out, that one finds a problem. Having vast knowledge of pop culture or any other such subject is fine, but not if its at the expense of knowing what is happening in reality, in the real world.
One example of this, I happened to see on a coffee outing with a friend a couple days ago. Like many, he owns an iphone, and uses it to watch countless youtube videos (at times this can be mildly annoying). Especially a couple days ago, where I sat though an hour and a half (or so) of various conspiracy theory videos, trying to bite my tongue and not say what I REALLY wanted to (I settled for picking apart the ones I could, and doing the best I could with the ones I couldn’t, since no one has any proof).
It ended the way it usually does in those situations.
The person trying to “sell” me the idea, ended up still thinking he knows more about whats happening then me, and that either I am an idiot, or I don’t want to “hear the truth”. And I kept my same stance, that these conspiracy peddlers know how to manipulate people, and I can see though it. Also, what they say is not “truth”, because you need evidence for that (credible evidence, not what they put on their sites/in their videos). There there are the problems presented by the massive scale of most conspiracies (keeping often thousands, tens of thousands, if not more people, quiet). Then there is arguably the most important problem, what can YOU do about it?
Being informed of a perceived “problem” is not much use, if there is nothing one can do about it. Not to mention that it takes attention away from the REAL problems of reality, like climate change. Which brings me to the next part of the story.
Upon talking about the Nuclear accident in Japan, the guy told me he had not heard about it. To give some credit, I keep myself well connected to news and the goings on in the world, so it is without saying, that this would be on my radar. But even the most passive consumer of news that I know, at least knew OF the accident (though by now, their awareness has faded away with the news coverage of it).
It bothered me, to be frank. It was proof, of not just the danger of MISinformation floating around online, but the danger of getting to sucked into the glut of useless information available today.
Most proponents of technology, look at the vast amount of information available at our fingertips virtually anywhere on the planet, as a good thing.
But is it really?