Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Overwhelmed by Too Much Information

As part of my commitment to read more, I decided to also capture articles I have been reading and interested in lately. Not having the time necessarily that I want in order to finish all these books I have and want to buy, I thought this was a good way for me to stay informed, and in touch with some deeper issues. I like bringing these up in conversation and hearing what people have to say about them.

With this new commitment of mine, I also needed to realize one thing: we are in the information age. We will be bombarded with messaging attached to personal experience and agenda. What we should learn from what we find online is that we are entitled to develop our own opinion. I remember reading a book called the Policy Paradox: The Art of Political Decision Making by Deborah Stone. The book was intriguing in that it questioned research because really, research can be demonstrated and swayed to prove an argument. The book called out two research articles one debating one side of the issue, and the other debating the other side. Both articles were brilliant.

At first, I was upset - how was I supposed to decipher which argument was the best? What was I supposed to believe? I remember literally crying in front of my professor (thank you Thad for sticking with me), and really struggling with what was real and what to believe. In this regard, the class did exactly what was intended. It taught me to think. It taught me to ask questions - and not even questions, the right questions. It gave me what I needed to make informed decisions and seek out research of all kinds in order to form my own opinion.

Back to what I was saying. Here are some articles I have read recently that have inspired, or at least provoked thought. What do you think?

Deseret News article: Mormon Mom's Answer: how much should I pay the babysitter

NPR Ed article: Grief in the Classroom: 'Saying Nothing Says a Lot'

It is easy for us to be swayed one way or another. We could be reading one argument for something one minute and one article against that same argument the next. I think of the prophets who foretold about the days before Christ comes again to the earth and what challenges those who are preparing the way will have to face. I am convinced that the number one challenge is the fight for truthful and honest information. Now more than ever, we need to rely on a Heavenly witness if the information we have been given is wise and true. Now more than ever, we need to figure out what information we can rely on. 

In the talk Four Absolute Truths Provide an Unfailing Moral Compass, Richard B. Wirthlin states:

"Many have referred to the current era as the information age. But it is ironic that, in an information-rich era, the biggest threat to our world’s societies, rich or poor, and to each of us personally is the absence of moral clarity and purpose.

Clearly, the stresses and strains that assault us cannot be attributed to a lack of knowledge. In fact, a current weekday edition of the New York Times contains more information than the average person was likely to come across in a whole lifetime in 17th-century England.
But unfortunately, the explosive increase in information has not led to a parallel increase in true wisdom.
We cannot cope with the confusions and the challenges of this world unless we use a clear and consistent moral compass that will unerringly take us through our own personal trials and the tugs and pulls of our own temptations—a compass that will chart our way to peace of mind, self-worth, and joy."

Sometimes I am overwhelmed by all the decisions I have to make. I get tired of the responsibility associated with having access to all this amazing information. I often find myself daydreaming of a time where it took weeks, even months to receive letters from loved ones. I also daydream about escaping to the high mountains with my car full of all my great books, and losing myself in reading good material. 

But then I am reminded of my responsibility to decipher information and proclaim truth when I see it, and invoke wisdom as I experience life. While it is daunting, it also give me a sense of pride...to carry on what I know in my heart to be true, and sharing that with others. 

What a great day in which I live.

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