In Newsweek recently there was an article called “I Can’t Think.” It is about the fact that we are overloaded by information. “The Twitterization of our culture has revolutionalized our lives, but with an unintended consequence — our overloaded brains freeze when we make decisions,” journalist Sharon Begley writes. Begley warns us that we are overloaded with information, choices, and alternatives. When we have so many choices, we are unable to make any choice at all. As a result, when we finally do respond “the ceaseless influx trains us to respond instantly, sacrificing accuracy and thoughtfulness to the false god of immediacy.”1
In other words, we respond out of exigency and expediency and not out of thoughtfulness and care. We choose the quick not the right, the convenient not the just.
George Loewen of Carnegie Mellon University warns that “getting 30 texts per hour up to the moment when you make a decision means that the first 28 or 29 have virtually no meaning.”2 Immediacy dooms thoughtful deliberation.
Another casualty is creativity. Creative decisions are more likely to bubble up from a brain that applies unconscious thought to a problem, rather than going at it in a full-frontal, analytical assault. So much for making decisions in the shower or on a quiet walk. We swamp ourselves with text messages and twitter and IMs. We don’t need to reflect on a problem — we can google our crisis away with 100s of hits.
Oh, that it were so! No one, my friend, can put humpty together again but the Maker. Yes, God. Unless we can Twitter our way to the Holy Spirit or text God we might be in trouble. We will not be able to send an SOS out on Facebook to solve our sorry lives — we need a direct, old-fashioned touch of God. In the midst of so much information the thing that really matters, we discover, is WHO we know and not WHAT we know. Well, all this information is only information, after all. Aha! Our epistemology will take us no further than our metaphysics.
How can you protect yourself from having your decisions warped by excess information? Ms. Begley suggests we take our e-mails in limited fashion, like a glass of wine before bedtime. She wants us to control our access to Facebook — only twice a day.
Silly me. May I suggest an alternative? Why not turn off the computer. And pick up your Bible. And read it.“For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” ~ Hebrews 4:12