TMI (Part 3)

Maybe it’s ironic I’ve used three posts to say all I want about information, making my series on TMI too much information. Or maybe it’s just redundant.

Nonetheless, I’m finishing up the series with these last thoughts.

Information itself can become a danger—we can end up knowing too much.

We’ve all used the catchphrase: “I could tell you, but then I’d have to kill you.” Not seriously though. Well, most of us. If you’ve ever used that phrase seriously I want to encourage you to stop reading and never visit this site again. You’re scaring me.

We have held to the idea that knowledge is power. And that those who are in the know have an exclusive advantage over those who are not.

I used to believe that knowledge reigns supreme over nearly everyone. An idea first introduced to me by a high school friend through the rap group Boogie Down Productions.

Both of those ideas are reinforced through popular culture, that knowledge is key to having power and control over others.

So we make and keep secrets.

And we gossip.

Have you ever wondered why gossip is so powerful? Why we are so susceptible to listen to it? Because it draws us in with some secret word that is being exclusively shared with us, but not with others. We’re drawn in and accepted.

But I’ve come to realize that information and knowledge aren’t truly the greatest source of power. By themselves, they are merely tools used to manipulate and maintain the illusion of control.

You see, there is a great danger of knowledge without appropriate action. Maybe that’s why we keep secrets. We’re afraid of sensitive information getting into the wrong hands.

We live in a world full of information. There is too much to ever think we’d be able to consume it all; we can’t keep up with what’s served up to us each day.

That is our new reality, and it demands that we come to grips with how we are going to handle and interact with that plethora of information.

When Apple introduced the iPhone, it changed the way we interacted with information. It put more information at our fingertips, and shrunk the globe.

It became a blessing and a curse.

The danger is that we can become intellectual foolsacting as though we had power, but really only had a piece of information.

The world is already full of these people; and I fear we have assumed their posture by hunching over our phones, both hands gripping tightly as we ignore the reality around us. We have recreated Plato’s cave and furnished it with comfortable seating around the fire.

Knowing more has never been enough. But the lie that knowledge alone is enough has been a subtle deception from almost the beginning of time. The serpent used a lie about knowledge to trick Eve into doubt and disobedience.

Knowledge is only a piece of the puzzle; the key comes in knowing where it fits. This moves us from knowledge to wisdom, acting rightly with the information we have at our fingertips and frontal lobes.

So those who know more hold a greater responsibility to act rightly.

Exposure to the plights of the world around us demand we act justly. Knowing my friend is hungry forces me to feed him. Recognizing another is weighed down under the burden of life necessitates me to step in and relieve her load.

Information is really only too much if we continue to consume it without acting on it. As if holding it would mean power and control. Living in light of it—demonstrating grace and forgiveness, justice and mercy—that is where true power comes. Not because we use it to manipulate the masses, but now we are able to love and serve and grace others.

Grace is active, not passive. We can’t roll up our sleeves with our thumbs still searching for more information.

What will we do with our Twitter and Facebook feeds? What good and humble use can come from us holding CNN and Wikipedia in between our two hands? At some point, don’t we have to put the devices away to lend our hands to another?

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TMI (Part 2)

In my last post, I sought to draw attention to the overwhelming amount of information we are exposed to. Then I asked whether my adding a blog to the mix was just too much, just more ‘noise’ in an already loud world. But I also asked whether there might be grace enough for me to seek to write and find my voice anyhow.

This time I’d like to look a bit closer at all of our involvement with this information overload. Because we’re all partly responsible. Yeah, all of us.

Are you a Facebook user? I am. And the emphasis is probably on user. I probably overuse the site—abuse it, really.

It’s a place we both love and hate, isn’t it?

We use it to keep up with old friends, connect with family, read odd news, stalk people, and waste time.

But my issue today isn’t with all of those various uses, but on answering the questions: Do we share too much? Do we reveal too much about ourselves in a public setting?

Well, the quick and easy answer is a resounding, “Yes!” Otherwise we wouldn’t find ourselves sounding off about some people’s overuse, “unfriending” people that have irritated us, and generally complaining about how cluttered our timeline is.

And let me be quick to say that Facebook isn’t the only place this happens, but it’s definitely the most popular of the various social media sites. But my aim isn’t at Facebook as much as it is at us, the users and subscribers.

But what is the problem exactly? Why do we think people post too much? Why do we post too much? And who defines what is too much? Because I don’t think I do, but I certainly think you might.

What’s behind this information overload, both the desire to consume and the desire to share things that complete strangers can discover about us?

Wait, you only post those things on your timeline and only your friends can see them because of your privacy settings? Did you forget that this is all on the Worldwide web?! Nothing is deleted. Nothing is hidden. It’s all there—for anybody with enough time, energy, and desire to dig it up.

But I’m getting distracted now. Surprise, surprise.

So what’s the basis for this behavior?

Here’s my thought: at the core of this personal information overload is the desire to be known. We all want to be loved. To let others see who we really are and then to be accepted for that reality. So we seek opportunities to have our voices heard, our pictures viewed, our kids adored and ultimately, to be loved for and through it all.

But somewhere along the way we get swept up in it and the desire to be accepted wins out over authenticity and we begin to project the best versions of ourselves. Instead of just desiring to be loved, we move to a space where we want our lives envied. We become discontent with others loving us for who we are and instead want them to love to be us. It becomes a non verbalized sort of competition. A dangerous and graceless competition. But it isn’t real life. We’ve set up highlights of ourselves which turn out to be veneer covering an either truly shallow existence or deep wounds we are afraid of revealing.

We post more, to be loved more.

Once again, the problem isn’t Facebook, or Twitter, or Pinterest . . . okay, maybe Pinterest is the problem.

The sites will change. Culture demands that. Todays Facebook is tomorrow’s Myspace. Whatever the forum, we’ve got to learn to leverage these spaces for opportunities to connect in meaningful and vulnerable relationships, with noncompete clauses. Life is hard enough without having the pressure of competing with friends through social media.

Instead, might I suggest we use these sites to engage with grace?

To recognize that sometimes it isn’t the content which speaks loudest and clearest, but it’s form and frequency.

Let’s seek to understand the content, but accept and love the person behind it. Let’s be those who are so winsome and free with our grace that the Spirit uses us to draw people into Jesus, where full acceptance, satisfaction and validation are found.

We don’t have to muster up this love on our own. We don’t have to fabricate feelings. We merely need to pass on what is already our’s in Jesus. Let’s be conduits of the grace we’ve received from the Father.

Do you agree? Do we share too much? Is it possible to continue to share our lives, but to move towards it happening in a meaningful and encouraging way?