Du: The problem with information pursuit

Erya Du, Staff Columnist

In the information age, we all have the habit of checking our phones and seeing what is happening in the world wherever we are. News inevitably floods into our lives, just like how the snow from Monday’s storm flooded into my eyes.

Back when information was not so easily accessible, the news was not as furious. My grandpa used to cut out the parts he liked in the newspaper and put them into a little file. Whenever I went to his house, he showed me his precious paper folder with pride.

But I haven’t seen that file since he got a smartphone. Now, we have many more and many more efficient ways to learn about what is happening around the world. With laptops, smartphones and easy access to the internet, you can find pretty much any information you might be searching for. Even if you don’t want to see the latest events, apps will just send you information automatically.

Our continual pursuit and access to the news has ultimately caused us to care less about whatever it is that we just read. When the next piece of news comes out, nobody really remembers or considers the previous one. A decreasing number of people even remember what happened yesterday.  

The sheer pace of information makes people generally unable to concentrate. Since nothing remains interesting beyond the moment it occurs, we will spend most of our time feeling that we are being pushed useless information. Everything is fast-paced and moving onward, with or without us.

Gradually, we begin to lose our opinions and goals and eventually feel like we’ve lost our time.

Before the age of constant information, people more commonly diverged from one another in their interests. They may have developed entirely different hobbies or aspirations because they would encounter various types of information from a less homogenized center of information, which lead them to varied lives. But today the information we gain tends to be consistent, because we hear exactly the same thing, and our attention is attracted by remarkably similar things.

What’s worse, even if we remember everything we see from the newspaper, TV and websites, we may delude ourselves into thinking we have a seamless connection with our world. However, we may still be very far away from the place where we live. There could be news or information left unreported or treated less seriously, causing certain things to stay under the radar as if they did not happen.

People used to call this information age an era of entertainment. So, in the end, is it that information is constantly trying to entertain, or that we’re constantly seeking the same entertainment?

Either way, it appears it is all moving in the same direction.

Erya Du is a first-year pre-law student double majoring in economics and international studies. She likes panda, deer and architecture.