The Devaluation of Knowledge

TV killed the radio star and modern media and technology is killing our minds. The genocide of personal knowledge.

There is no need to memorize a friend’s phone number when a SIM chip can embed the digits on its board. Similar for remembering pivotal moments in history because with a simple Google or Wikipedia search a plethora of information on the topic will appear in seconds. With information so easily accessible, why the need to retain such trivial knowledge? Many who ponder that same question are precisely the ones proving my point.

The internet has become the mega brain of humankind. It collects any form of information whether in prose, video, audio, etc. By doing so, we have relinquished much of the responsibility of acquiring personal knowledge. But even worse, we have devalued knowledge itself. There is no one to regulate, decipher, or determine what in this massive ocean of info is real, fiction, useless, useful, and so on. So now, everything is on the same tier, an even playing field where everything is valuable and valueless simultaneously, a paradox that may never be fixed.

The path to gaining knowledge has been so truncated that almost no effort is required to learn something or worse, quite easy to learn a false something. When it comes to the practice of knowing, the action of knowing, the process should embody the innate curiosity and openness we had as a child along with the comprehension and criticism that only the experience of adulthood can foster. Basically, keep an open mind while also questioning what is before you. But this process has evolved, or rather, regressed, in some ways with the overabundance and easy access to information.

I believe this worries me most because I’m concluding that more value is becoming placed on pop media. Social phenomenons such as kitten photos with engrish captions, self made videos of lip-synching to top 100 hits, or the forum for pop culture demi-gods to go viral, in the video and infectious contexts. This is what makes realities blur, truths and non-truths to be disguised as the other. Sometimes I think everyone is looking for a Messiah figure. To find a kindred spiritual/intellectual soulmate, and oddly enough, that person likely has similar beliefs just discusses them with more fervor and has a unique charisma that makes people easy prey. Pop Messiahs, yes, that is what some have become, and their blindly faithful devotees believe in that Pop Messiah’s words so much that they never bother to investigate or question the words spewing from their idol’s tongue. Opinions mislabeled as truth create a distorted foundation of knowledge.

Pop Messiahs’ “truth” is only a fusion of their experiences, emotions, and limited knowledge as they can conceive, articulate, and understand it.¬†Therefore, the idea of “truth” is really nothing but a delusion we choose to accept or deny.

This would be irrelevant if these opinion-truths didn’t perpetuate hate, lies, misunderstandings, confusion, wars, genocides, and so on. But they do and often to a magnitude that is appalling. However, their power is rooted in people’s lack of active knowledge and valuing a Pop Messiah’s opinion to the same high regard as factual knowledge.

By devaluing knowledge, by minimizing our proactivity in acquiring knowledge, by muting our innate investigative attribute, we are aiding in the creation of a society, a global community, that is a product of fallacies. If the Greeks taught us nothing else, it is that hubris is the downfall of humans and pride in ignorant thoughts will reap no benefits in the end but our destruction.

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This entry was published on August 31, 2010 at 6:10 am. It’s filed under knowledge, media, Philosophy, Society and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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