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Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Information Overload

A lot has been going on in the news about drugs and addiction, though I don't think much of it is a surprise, really.  The sad drudgery of modern life wears on, grinding us down into the fine dust that we came from.  It is all very sad.  

We live in an era of wealth without beauty.  All of our treasures are ugly.

With all of the luxuries we have, we are still stressed out, as this article points out.  We are overloaded with information.

Think about it: we are expected to know everything these days, and we do certainly have more facts and easier access to them than we ever have.  So, we demand of one another far more knowledge than has ever been required of humanity before.

Think about it: the average fifth grader has more scientific knowledge than Isaac Newton or even Louis Pasteur.  If you could send that child back in time, he would be teaching college at the doctorate level based on his rather limited understanding of today's world and his school curriculum for that age.

Yet, we demand more and more.  If you don't know something, you are automatically labelled 'ignorant' or lazy.'  You had better jump on the internet and find out.  We must know everything about everything.

And so we are stressed, and our minds go wound up.  Then, we wonder why so many people indulge in alcohol and drugs.

It used to be thought that college students drank because they were away from their parents.  While that's a contributing factor, I think the real appeal of it is far more practical: you need to be able to shut your head off once in a while, and alcohol is a great way to do that when you have not been trained to do it otherwise.

We don't teach people how to manage their minds and their racing thoughts.  Thinking is encouraged, but like an engine that constantly revvs up, eventually it burns out.  The child prodigy who gets his doctorate at 14... where is he when he's 40?  Most don't learn how to succeed.  That's left to lesser minds.

Meanwhile, we are finding that young people have a harder and harder time coping with the pressures of the 'know everything' culture.  They have become emotionally fragile, in large part because the new parents 'shield' their children from negative feedback in the hopes that they will absorb more data.

But, when they discover they are wrong, suddenly their world (which defines itself by the ability to always know the most and thus always be right) comes crashing down.  They can't handle and go into anxiety mode.

Suddenly, that 'bong,' filled with either beer or cannabis smoke, becomes one of the few escapes from the stresses of the Unknown and the minor failures of the day.  For some, it is the only escape.  Porn does much the same thing without many of the nasty side effects of a night on the town. 

One of the first things that converts struggle with in Orthodox Christianity is the vast aras of knowledge that seem 'unknowable' or 'off limits.'  There are 'Mysteries,' which sound like an intriguing invitation to be defeated through better research.  Of course, if there were source materials on these Mysteries, then they would not be so mysterious.

So, converts buy books and try to read, but what good does it do?  Many of them burn out after only a few years in the Church because they keep getting a 'denial of service' when they seek to know what they have already been told is unknowable.

The lack of clarity on so many things in the Church drives converts crazy.  They can't just be in the Church... they have to think about it and understand it.  All of it.  This, of course, is the real problem.  They discover they can't know it all, and that becomes a 'failure' of sorts.  They fail to understand, and thus they also be to be 'part of' of the Church from their perspective.

Knowledge is the key to everything so they think.

Sobriety is largely about acknowledging that you don't know everything, nor is it even to be expected.  It is about, first and foremost, existing.  We don't exist very well these days.  Think, yes.  Exist, not so much.  Existence is almost accidental.

The addict knows that too much thinking is as dangerous as too little or none at all.  By learning to accept the Mystery of Life, one's need to over-think decreases.  We don't need to use to slow down the whirling thoughts in our minds.

If we are going to preach the Gospel in this new era, the first thing we will have to do is preach against over-thinking and the dangers of Information Overload.