We are in the age of an abundance of knowledge. Almost anything you want to know is but a click away. Every second, millions of people are broadcasting new messages, publishing new articles and expressing new or recycled ideas. But who is really listening?
It is so easy to spend hours online, reading, watching, stalking even, and not actually change your mindset or learn anything new. We surround ourselves with the familiar. We follow those who think like us, who believe like us, who act like us… Even if we follow those few special people who we strive to emulate or who challenge our thinking, are we really listening to their messages?
How many tweets are really read before they are re-tweeted? Many people retweet others so that their own fan base will grow. What about those people who like others, so that they will get noticed? Or those who follow the popular, hoping that they too will become popular, whether or not they know what to do with that popularity?
I follow hundreds of people on Twitter, but I don’t read 1/1000th of the things they share (if that). Even if I checked Twitter every hour, I couldn’t possible keep up. Facebook is a little easier, because I actually know a lot of my Facebook friends personally, and they are not marketers with messages to sell, although many are trying to promote their organisations and businesses. But I get an idea of what they are saying, though I couldn’t keep up with all of them either, and I certainly do not agree with all of them. On WordPress, I follow close to 100 people at the moment, and I love every blogger I chose to follow…but some post much too often for me to keep up and contribute, as well as also have a personal or even a working life! Maybe I’m just neurotic, but I like to feel like I’m all caught up, but I’m learning that I will never catch up!
I guess I’m stating the obvious here. But I don’t think the problem is that there is too much information, as Libraries are beautiful and irreplaceable. The problem is really about the quality of the information and ideas out there. Publishing companies used to be the gate keepers in what information and ideas became available to the public, but with the rise of the Internet and social media, everyone is a publisher! However, I’ve often wondered, if everyone is in the choir, who’s listening? If really no one, or just few people, are really listening, do we care enough to stop and consider the value of our contribution? Certainly, not all can be teachers, not all are leaders, not all are capable managers. Do we know or care what our contribution should be?
Jesus said that we will give account for every idle word we speak (Matt 12:36-37). That’s huge! I can’t defend every word I’ve ever spoken, or shared. If we’re always broadcasting and never listening, especially to God to direct us in the things we should say and share, then we are very likely not saying anything worthwhile.
I can’t stop others from broadcasting, and I can’t hinder the followers from following without discretion. But I can do more to ensure that my content deserves its space in the vastness of the online arena, even if I do not attract the following and praise of others. Maybe, the few who are really listening will get something from my thoughtful contribution in a world filled with noise.
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