We are fortunate as a society to have information at our fingertips. We can search for basically anything, at any moment of the day. And while this has its benefits, it also has its negatives.
We have so much information available to us that it can be addictive and often overwhelming.
I'll bet that the majority of us reach for our phones first before we do much else in the morning. Scrolling and scanning, often mindlessly. And feeling this urgency to find out what we missed overnight.
It's not completely new to us. Throughout time we have felt this need to be in the loop of what is happening throughout the world. But the intensity of it all, speed and overconsumption is a concern.
Said by Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius nearly 2000 years ago:
“Are you distracted by breaking news?
Then take some leisure time to learn something well, and stop bouncing around.”
- Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius (via Benjamin P. Hardy)
We are often bouncing around without clarity because our minds are running so quickly and consuming a great deal of information, that it leaves us struggling to focus.
There is a feeling of missing out (aka FOMO) knowing that there is information still out there that we haven't yet discovered and feel an urgency to discover.
With more choice comes greater confusion.
Like how a menu with six pages of options makes choosing something difficult. The same goes for the information we consume on a daily basis. There is so much of it available that we may find ourselves staring into our devices wondering where to look.
So how do we find that balance of taking in enough information so that we feel informed, without it cluttering out mind?
I think (and will say again) that it takes simplifying.
Simplifying our sources of information - finding those sources which we really resonate with, which provide us with quality information and inspiration, and not worrying so much about all the other material floating around out there.
We must consume enough— but if we consume TOO MUCH, it is bad for us.
- Eric Kim
There will always be other articles to be read. Other opinions to be discovered. But so what? Let go. And trust your own mind to form an opinion without relying on that of the million or so others out there.
Allow yourself time to check the sources you respect once a day, and move on.
The same goes for social media. It's damn addictive. But we do have the choice to pull back from it. To not care so much and actually be present in our own life.
Technology has brought us closer together. We can connect with one another more easily online, and with those living abroad. But it is also causing a disconnection. With others, and within ourselves.
And therein lies the deeper problem.
I think quite often we resort to seeking out information or scrolling through social media platforms due to boredom or feeling unfulfilled. It's a little like escaping our reality and living elsewhere for a while. Somewhere that we think is more exciting than where we currently are.
But, we all feel bored - even those famous Instagrammers or friends on Facebook who appear to be living the dream life. Outside those beautiful visual squares and updates there is real life being lived. With moments of mundanity and the not so glamourous. And deep down we all know this. But seem to only take in the prestige of it all. Because it's more exciting than the boredom we often feel.
And many of us do everything we can to avoid that feeling. Because in that boredom we are faced with ourselves. Which can be a lonely place to be.
But feeling bored isn't necessarily bad. When we are in that space, in those moments of stillness, our mind is more likely to think for itself.
Children need to experience boredom as it gives their mind a chance to use their imagination. If as a parent we run to their aid and provide them with an activity (or distraction) then they aren't using their mind to create their own. We provide them a quick fix to take away that boredom. Their mind isn't being challenged and they aren't given the time to discover who they are.
The same applies for adults.
As ancient philosophical knowledge states:
"Know thyself" - Oracle of Delphi
Connecting with and knowing ourselves allows us to move through life with a clear mind. It helps us navigate life in a more healthy way. It strengthens our ability to feel comfort in those moments of solitude.
With practice we can reduce our consumption of digital information and feel peace. We can start to live in the present and see the beauty in what we have before us. Our minds can begin to slow allowing space for our own thoughts. We can discover who we are and what truly matters in our own life.