Springingtiger's Blog


Too Much Information
November 29, 2013, 20:33
Filed under: autism, disability, Parenting, social media | Tags: , , , , , , ,

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Yesterday at work some of us were doing a quiz. I absolutely blitzed the old movies round,  but I fared less well on more recent films. I am not surprised I did well on the old films as, when I was a child,  even silent films were much more part of our lives than now. The films we saw most often on television, usually on a Sunday afternoon,  were over a decade old, Erroll Flynn in “Robin Hood”, Noel Coward in “The Cruel Sea”, Gene Kelly in “The Three Musketeers” (I love that film!). Of course when I was a child there were only two television channels, and when I was really young we could only receive one because of the mountains. Children’s television consisted of “”Watch With Mother” at lunchtime and one hour, “Children’s Hour”, before the News at Six o’ clock. We were not bombarded by television twenty four hours a day from hundreds of channels. Programs started at lunchtime and the channels closed before midnight. We had no videos,  no Internet,  but we had the radio and books and far less boredom,  as far as I remember.

Some days now I go to the Cineworld in Renfield Street and watch two, or even three films. When I was a child we rarely went to the cinema,  it was more than ten miles away and often was not showing films suitable for children. There was only ever one feature film and it showed all week. The main film was only about ninety minutes long unlike today’s cinematographic marathons, but we also got a short and Pathe News and there was an interval with ice cream ladies,  actually they were the same ladies who had earlier shown us to our seats. A visit to the cinema was a big event, a treat to savour for weeks.

Our books were printed on paper not loaded onto an eReader, so we were limited in how much of our collections we could carry with us. Rather than absorb bite size snippets of information we tended to watch or read one thing from beginning to end, actually there has never been a time when I haven’t been reading several books, but I couldn’t carry them all. Nowadays it’s quite possible to sit in front of the television watching a film while Facebooking on one’s phone; not me, I like to do one thing at a time, I don’t process multiple inputs.

I think today we have too many sources of information, too many distractions. I can’t remember whether it was Isaac Newton or Benjamin Franklin who was the last person to know everything, in the sense of recorded knowledge,  but there was a time when it was possible for one person to have a grasp of all human knowledge,  now it is impossible, it is difficult even for a specialist to completely know their subject.  We are bombarded by so much information all the time, much of it trivial, that I think we actually end up retain less of value. We might be happier if we took in less information,  but thought about it more, or perhaps thought more about the information we really need so we could choose to take in less and waste less time doing it. We need to focus on information of quality rather than the quantity of information.

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