Information Overload: On Gaining Knowledge And Personal Conviction

I was reading a really good book one night, it was one of those times when you can’t put down a book because it’s so good but you know you need to put it down to avoid sleeping on the job later in the day because as it turned out you have been reading till…

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I was reading a really good book one night, it was one of those times when you can’t put down a book because it’s so good but you know you need to put it down to avoid sleeping on the job later in the day because as it turned out you have been reading till the early hours of the morning. But I couldn’t put it down, I was enjoying every word and even though my head felt so full with words and information I just couldn’t put the darn thing down. Then it so happened that I got late to work and was caught dozing off late in the afternoon, but I remember that as I was preparing to leave in the morning of that day and obviously blaming my leaving late on reading too long into the night, I couldn’t help but wonder how much information and knowledge there are out there.

Has anyone ever felt like she/he is being smacked left, right and centre with information? Like you’re literally being chased down with knowledge on so many topics that are the same or different depending on the perspective? It’s everywhere, on twitter, Facebook, blogs, amongst our friends and family, etc; some we seek out but others we encounter because they are freely shared by the authors or speakers. We all feel the need to create a better society, better relationships, better marriages, better and improved interactions, to become well informed and purposeful individuals, plus to share needed new ideologies and opinions that seek to debunk old cultures and traditions that have no relevance today. It’s obvious that the onslaught of knowledge and information from different platforms is what helps us grow and evolve as humans but sometimes I wonder, how much is too much information? How do we know who we are as individuals if we are perpetually changing all the time?

Sometimes my sister calls me up to ask questions on certain life issues, most times I have things to say and other times I point her to a platform where she can get all the info she needs, but I never fail to tell her that in learning new things or unlearning old ones it’s important for her to  discover for herself what the right information or knowledge is and this can only happen when she already has clearly defined  values, principles and beliefs that guides who she is or she would  be blown all over the place by every wind of opinion, information or teaching which in itself may not be fully formed, prejudicial, or biased and may not have universal truth or humanistic value.

What we learn most of the time is transformative, but we don’t always know or think we know what is on the other side of that transformation. Love, wisdom, grace, inspiration….these are positives, in addition there are lots of negatives that are learned everyday which are things that make us extend the boundaries of the self into unknown territory. But the question still remains, how do we know who we are if we’re constantly changing? Sometimes we feel lost, maybe something happens that shakes the core of who we think ourselves to be and then we panic because at that moment we can’t say for sure that we know who we are, or we’ve gone with the “flow” for too long and we can’t remember how we got to where we are or where the flow is leading us, in some cases we come full face with what we’re capable of as human beings and we question our very existence and purpose because we never thought that this person ever existed within us. I think the reason for the panic is because we love control, we tend to believe strongly in the stability that comes from knowing who we are, we love the idea of being in charge of our lives, and the thought that we’re living within the boundaries of our existence even when said boundaries weren’t set by us gives us a certain comfort. But one thing I’ve observed is that whenever a person feels lost, that usually means that something new is on the verge of being born in that person, I read something once that said “have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves…..it is possible to live and not know”.

So I think the answer lies in the questions, the unknown, the unfamiliar, the uncertain, the unforeseen, the edge of mystery and the role they play in our lives and in the lives of the people around us and how we respond to them, plus even as the unknown quickly becomes the known once it’s mystery is uncovered…..the beauty of it is that there’ll always be something new to be uncovered, known, or found, and this I think is where life happens, now whether what lies at the other side of the mystery or question is good or bad is what we have to decide depending on our level of understanding, curiosity is what grants us intimate access to minds and experiences beyond our own.

Paul’s letter to the Colossians 2 vs 8 says: “See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ.” I know what informs the core of who I am, but sometimes it gets tricky and the boundaries of my conviction seem unclear, but I’m not afraid of learning new things, I’m learning to live consciously with my mind, arms, and heart wide open for it’s in fullness that I overflow. Something is always born out of excess: great art is born out of great terror and suffering, great loneliness, great inhibitions, instability, and it always balances them; beauty out of the ugly. I think perhaps that is one of the reasons couples work, that balance, if it seems that one moves in a world of certitude, the other, par contre, might move in a world of mystery or they may be on that place of mystery together and this makes everything interesting.

But my question is should personal convictions determine how knowledge/information are perceived and are used? If so, then isn’t it in itself a limitation to our growth and evolution? Where does knowledge end and personal conviction begin? How do they work with or against one another?

Please use the comment section and express you.

Image via Business Insider

Responses

  1. Emma Marie
    I concur! Everybody has an opinion so they put it up on their blog, social space etc.
    I hardly read stuff online. I just scan through because I’m almost sure I’ve read the original remix, original and mix tape someplace else in my lifetime. It’s all recycled really.
    Except for personal interests of mine – food, medical research on…, fitness, faith, home decor – I’d follow a few and that’s it.
    If we catch up on everything, where’s the time to be purposefully lazy and blank. I need me those, often.
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    1. Priscilla Joy
      I appreciate your comment Emma, but I think you’re wrong. I believe that a lot of writers are capable of having original thought, not everything is recycled as no opinion is absolute . Please read the questions again, how does personal conviction affect the way you process and receive information/knowledge?
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      1. Emma Marie
        Don’t get me wrong. I have had a lot of real life conversations that have covered most topics that are put up online. The fact that the writer put up their opinion doesn’t mean it’s not original. If I’ve indulged in that conversation before, I’d rather not again esp if it’s not an area I’m particularly interested in.

        Personal conviction sometimes may mean that one is close minded to some other views but not necessarily so. It’s most popular on religious and political lines. For me, the key is to listen and RESPECT different views. Even if I do not agree, at least, hearing a different side would allow me some insight into the different variables to that conversation. An if it’s convincing enough to change a personal conviction, fine, so be it.
        Is it a limitation to growth? Nope. We’re 7 billion in the world. I think we’ll always balance/pan these things out. We can’t all think alike, as naive as that may seem.

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  2. Chinelo Mgbeadichie
    forming opinions without knowledge is ignorance and ignorance simply is ignoring knowledge. I don’t see how a person would form an opinion without reading through other people’s experience and thoughts.
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  3. Makachuks
    The beauty of most good writers is that they articulate thoughts which have been circulating in lots of peoples’ heads.
    They put it into sentences so precisely, that you do not fail to recognize it once you chance upon it.
    A great writer gives you the right tools to question your strongly held beliefs, the defined spaces,
    the logical structures.
    I remember reading some new blogs on topics I thought I was already comfortable with, but the presentation
    simply blows me away, and lives such a long lasting impression.
    Thats why I keep coming back to TNC. So many bold writers put into words, these thoughts that many
    young Nigerians have but can not articulate exactly.
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  4. ogbo
    I swear I don’t understand the question but I enjoyed reading this article. We all know that Ignorance is very bad,however there are some informations you get that changes everything about you knowingly or unknowingly,good or bad. Balancing everything is key. I for example, since I read a book on temperaments some years back,my mindset has been influenced. I automatically began to believe that as a sanguine inconsistency would always be my challenge and that there are some people I won’t flow with. But today when I think about it I feel I would have been better off without knowing what my temperament is
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    1. Priscilla Joy
      You actually answered the question somehow, for you personal conviction is not a limitation to growth and self-awareness even as you wish you didn’t know what you got to know about yourself; so your personal conviction is flexible which i think can be a good thing and a bad thing. Gaining knowledge opens our eyes and minds to different perspectives that as you pointed out has the power to change what we believe, so balance is key. Personal convictions are a part of the growth process of all of us, but they are written in pencil, not ink. As we grow in knowledge many of our convictions will be challenged. We have to learn to acknowledge when to let go and when to hold on.

      Thanks for reading.

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  5. Omoni
    Thought-provoking piece Priscilla, but I think the question put almost provides the answer. It is not whether personal convictions should affect how information is perceived and used, but whether we like it or not, these personality spaces always do affect what we do with knowledge or information. It is effortless and certain. Everything we take in we take through a filter called our paradigms and the information will both be received and interpreted through that paradigm so that no two ppl receive information exactly the same way. I don’t think having this innate capability necessarily blocks one from experiencing and learning from the new although it could, it’s based on a decision that an individual makes consciously or subconsciously and often based on one’s personality or values. And I think that’s okay, because those are things that truly define you, not your knowledge. Knowledge can merely edit how a person makes decisions, or their understanding so that learning continuously adds to or subtracts from that quality not necessarily transforming a whole person. I also think that art does not necessarily come from the ugly, there is so much great art out in the world borne from beauty, hope, and inspiration.
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    1. Priscilla Joy
      I truly appreciate your comment Omoni, I guess the question does but it can be challenged. yes there are great art borne from beauty but if you really study art you’ll see that the ones that are truly influential were borne out of negative experiences and circumstances; hymns, music, paintings, street art like graffiti, etc. I love what you said about filters and our paradigms, I believe that is most effective in a mind that is fully convinced and beliefs that are strongly rooted. But I think you underestimate the power that knowledge has to totally transform an individual, when people say they heard a message, or saw a video that showed them the “light” or made them understand what their calling is, and they began to follow a cause that they previously had nothing to do with or weren’t even interested in – that is the power of knowledge, it can put one through a path that will change everything that life previously knew. That’s why TNC is no joke because a lot of the things written and argued on this platform has tremendous effect that we may not fully understand just yet.
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  6. Afrolady
    I think we should remain open minded in our personal convictions so we do not miss out on valuable information or an opportunity to gain knowledge. It is wise to be flexible; I do not mean getting carried away by all the information we find, but knowing that though you have personal views about a subject, it is okay to take on a new way of thinking or to accommodate other thoughts different from yours.
    In reference to the comment on temperaments, I learned I am phlegmatic but I do not say “oh they said I’m phlegmatic oo, so I must behave this way”..
    There is a balance to it.
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  7. Obie
    I approach knowledge from a ‘wholeness’ point of view i.e see how what I know form part of a whole or relate to some new information. Connecting the dots of what you learn and turning them into actionable ideas is more important than knowing. So while I may have good reason to ignore some piece of information, I strive to stay open to all sources and then see how much they agree or differ from what I already know. Essentially it is a good thing to develop the ability to entertain a thought without necessarily accepting it. We once thought the world was flat but today we know better. Things change so we must also not be locked into convictions that block new information. Knowledge should be both learning and unlearning, infact sometimes more of the latter than the former owing to the pace of change in today’s world.
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