On our Relationship to Information
Dear quarter lives,
This topic was inspired by a recent and very long conversation with friends, so I dedicate this one to my beloved friends who challenge me and to the spirit of debate that keeps our minds healthy and our hearts open.
To begin this contemplation, let’s start by defining the term information.
According to the Oxford Dictionary, information is defined as facts told or discovered. In searching the internet for other definitions, I found that all lead to similar conclusions that information is knowledge obtained from some sort of investigation or study. It is not opinion. It is fact. And its purpose is to resolve uncertainty and to make more of the unknown knowable.
In the world we are currently living in, I would argue that information has lost its closeness to certainty. Knowledge that is communicated is not always fact; neither is it opinion. We live in a very rich and diverse world of beliefs where there are abundant schools of thought for literally everything, so fact is only fact as deemed so by its proponents. Some see a problem in this as they deem it the cause for misinformation and the threat to progress in our societies. While others find such diversity in information to be a great sign of humanity’s progress in tolerance and acceptance. I can see the tension between both rising, but I can also see that it is that tension between these multiple truths that will keep our societies healthy and in balance. Once you have too much of the same of anything in any ecosystem, whether it’s our own bodies or a forest or coral reef, the system is in danger. It is out of balance, and thus, vulnerable to attack or disease.
And as much as I know deep down that having some wiggle room for debate and questioning is what brings about inventions and innovations, I cannot help but wonder too about the consequences too much doubt can have on us and our relationship to information. I have been thinking a lot about what my relationship to information is — do I trust information or have I due to a habit of constant questioning developed a deep mistrust in it? Moreover, I had always thought that I (like every other human) should be free to believe and express what I want. I had never thought that my beliefs have consequences. I never considered the impact of what I express. I never considered that, like there are benefits to freedom of expression, there are costs too. It made me rethink my power as a writer. It made me reconsider the value of what I put out there. Does everything need to be said and at whose cost are we speaking? But equally, when I deem someone else’s expression of their truth invalid simply because it is not factual according to the scientific method, what am I doing to the emotional and more felt and experiential part of being human? What am I doing to society if I say that Love cannot be because science has not proven that there is a particle called Love? What am I doing if I prevent people from venturing into different realms of certainty? It is not that love is an unknown, neither is it opinion, it is merely that love is the kind of fact that is only provable through felt experience.
What is the cost of not being able to navigate an uncertain kind of certainty? Why can’t we live in a world where different kinds of facts exist? I am not saying if we needed to build a spaceship to just say a bunch of affirmations for an entire month and expect to have a spaceship as a result. But what if we can entertain that saying a bunch of affirmations can have an impact on our physical health even if science cannot yet prove it? Why can’t science and other forms of truth coexist? I would argue strongly that it is largely because of our own relationship to information. Just like being in relationship with a person, there are certain expectations we have from information. One big one is reliability. We rely completely on information to tell us the truth, and so the idea of having multiple pieces of information that tell different stories is immediately assumed to threaten that reliability of information which is at the very foundation of our relationship to it. But someone who is in a polyamorous relationship will tell you being in relationship with two different people, experiencing two different kinds of love (like two different kinds of information) does not change the reliability factor at all. Every love is its own kind of love and does not diminish or compare to the other; in fact each one only enhances the other and both work together in unison to create a third completely new experience of love.
The problem isn’t that there’s so much conflicting information out there, the problem is that we are looking for information to provide us with safety and security. We are looking to information to relieve us of our anxiety of the unknown, so when information stops doing that, we want to condemn it for not being really information. We want certainty and we expect it from every fact and we blame information for being broken if it fails to give us that certainty. But it is not information that is the problem, it is our relationship to information. I will say it one more time — it is our relationship to information that requires recalibration and not information itself. We as a collective society have become too dependent, too reliant on fact and certainty. We do not have to explain the world away only in one way; there can be the scientific narrative; there can be the energetic narrative; there can be as many kinds of narratives as there are people.
What I’d just like to ask of you as we end this beautiful contemplation together — consider if you had a completely new sense; one that is only unique to you and allows you to perceive the world in a way that when you try to explain it to someone else, it conflicts with the story of the world that we experience together with the rest of our senses. How would you feel if you expressed it to someone and they told you you’re a liar or you’re a lunatic? How would you feel if you are shunned from a collective right not only to experience the world differently but to contribute to it as well? What we’re experiencing in the world today is a consequence of such isolation and alienation. All any one of us wants to feel is like we belong, and all any one of us needs to be able to feel like we belong is to express our truth without fearing condemnation because of it. We once lived in a world where it was perceived as a fact from god that being anything but heterosexual should be punished and shunned. Today, we live in a world where people use the word of science like they used to use that of god, it is neither the word of god that is at fault here nor the word of science, it is always the fault of people who want to use information to wield power by manipulating people. Let us not condemn people’s individual rights to self-expression, when it is our collective wounded relationship to information that needs healing. We should certainly all reflect and reconsider our own relationship to information as well as the consequences of how we use and communicate information and the intention behind our own expressions of the truth. But what I fear happens when we deem some views invalid is to create further segregation in a society that is hungry for unity. Not unity in views, but in acceptance. We must be able to live in a world where we can be different and still be accepted to be who we are without having to change to fit in someone else’s view of the world. Like almost everything in life, even love, information is a double-edged sword that can be used for good or for evil, so we must be wise, careful and mindful of how we use our swords of information. Perhaps we cannot strive to control information, the only thing we can control is our own selves. It is not up to information to get rid of its evil consequences. It is always up to us, up to the carrier to pick which end of the sword they will use. I cannot force you to use information my way, the same way I cannot force you to eat a certain way just because we all endure the consequences of a collective health burden on our societies and economies together.
I hope this has left you with sufficient food for thought to keep you going for a while. May we all have the ability to discern for ourselves what is true in any given moment.
With love and always for peace,