New #YinzerTalk: Do We Have The Ability To React Proportionately To Information Importance?

I just started a new writing venture in a completely different genre than what I do here with Pittsburgh Jedi. You may see a little throttling back on the site posts but I’ve been wanting to get the social conversations started back up again. It’s been a while since I’ve created open dialogue opportunities on the social feeds. Strangely enough, that’s actually pretty relevant to what’s on my mind right now.

The new writing gig is in an area I’m not a total stranger to, but definitely not a professional in. Like any intelligent human should do when they need to learn up, I’ve been doing a fair amount of surfing and research to stock up on writing material via a number of different sources. Most sites are set up around the concept of news; everything is listed chronologically from the newest story first, then working down to the oldest story at the bottom. Similar to the idea of inverted pyramid style in writing. Across each of the sources I utilized, through the frequency and tone of the content posted on them, I was able to visibly see what might sound like an obvious problem. The bigger problem is if it’s actually an obvious problem that we’re all aware of, the majority of people are only able to see it in hindsight and aren’t able to be, or choose not to be conscious enough of it in the present.

It’s impressive and kind of scary how the internet, specifically social media “news” algorithms, forces everyone to react then move past things. Whether the story is vitally important or bottom-feeding garbage, something that people were freaking out about just 24 hours prior can seemingly disappear because of something else newer, but totally disproportionate in importance.

Information is being delivered in such bulk sizes, things that are truly important and should remain in focus become afterthoughts or completely forgotten because of waves of new information showing up. Information containing no real importance at all take priority because it’s popular for whatever reason. Something as simple and completely unimportant to anything in life, such as a movie/tv/music awards ceremony accompanied by the barrage of entertainment puff pieces that it creates, can take over your news feeds and essentially erase all coverage and conversation about something more vital, such as topics in government that are important enough to sway the decision of who receives your vote.

I apologize for not being specific with my examples, but there’s plenty of them and they’re not hard to find if you feel like taking the time to look back through 6-12 months of content.

It’s really easy to be given all your information and be told what you’ve been given is in fact important. That’s all we know, really. We grew up with schools picking and giving us pre-written textbooks. Our workplaces give us pre-organized and not necessarily the most up-to-date job training. 24/7 “news outlets” swear they’re giving us real, unbiased news. The reality is, as a collective, we’re getting REALLY BAD at rejecting needless information and stories. We mostly just consume and absorb everything, give it all equal reaction/overreaction and if something is coming to us in large quantities, we treat it as though it’s important information. Sometimes it is, but if we’re being honest with ourselves, most times it’s just more sexy to pay attention to.

There’s nothing wrong with being interested in things because they entertain you. I run a Star Wars-themed website. I’d be a hypocrite to say anything else. The problem is treating all information equally. That’s happening almost daily. We’re functioning under a very broken system: New holds more weight than older in regard to actual importance. Unless a flare up happens within an older issue giving it a sense of “new”, how many times do you see the important conversations get back on track on their own once something sexier has derailed it? How many times in recent history can you remember the public as a majority, following a long-running story from start to finish without a big entertainment story popping up and pulling away everyone’s attention?

Social media news feed algorithms are playing by high school rules:
If something loses popularity, its mass interest is lost and it’s no longer considered important.

That’s just not right. I don’t think anyone can rationally say having your mind controlled in that lazy, lethargic, passive “feed-me” fashion is ok. That’s our fault for letting ourselves be distracted so easily with little to no conviction to do anything but wait for the next thing to care about to be given to us.

We can’t be so infantile about information now that we are exposed to so much and so many different kinds of it. We can’t always be so enchanted by shiny jingling keys being dangled in front of us. We need to be better at recognizing and keeping our focus on important long-running issues instead of forgetting about it because someone wore a revealing dress on tv. Not only do we need to be better at recognizing important information, we need to be better at demanding important information by reacting to each piece proportionally to its importance.

This course of action is setting ourselves up for failure and it’s only gaining momentum. Seriously, go back and look for yourself. Any multi-genre spanning website will have this behavior documented. You’ll instantly recall all the social media uproars about any number of topics that just disappear overnight because something new was given to us. We didn’t take much time to discern the quality of the information. It was juicy, shiny and new so we reacted as though it’s the most important thing there is.

It’s not a problem to value something new. That’s almost like saying it’s not worth caring about a newborn baby because they haven’t become the president or a rock star yet. The problem is valuing “new” so much that it erases the importance of something measurably far more important, just because it’s no longer new or was never that sexy to begin with. The problem is reacting to everything equally and then letting the standards of what’s most popular right now determine what’s more important to us as a collective.

It all comes down to valuing intelligence and resurrecting the concept of valuing intelligence. One things for sure… By the amount of people out there seeking progress and change, we think our parents got it wrong in a lot of ways. Now we’re becoming the parents, guardians, aunts and uncles who are trying to get it right, but if we keep this up… either our kids are going be worse than we are OR they’re going to say we got it wrong too.

END RANT — this is really just me spouting thoughts and hoping to be thorough. If you feel like blowing up the comments saying you agree or that I’ve lost my mind, go for it. I always welcome the dialogue.