I have been a Toastmaster speech writer and presenter. I attended my first Toastmaster’s meeting with a Russian immigrant friend who wanted to go there in order to improve her English. She invited me to give her some courage and some encouragement. After her first meeting, she decided that speaking English to give speeches was too frustrating so she only went to one Toastmaster’s meeting. I found speaking in public to be harder than I expected it to be, so I ended up staying for a few years until I improved after practicing writing and giving speeches.
I once wrote a speech at Toastmasters about the Information Age. In that speech I talked about how people get psyched out by the sheer amount of information that comes across to all of us every minute of every day. For example, just do a query on the photo of the day. Many examples/choices will come up on the menu. If you only look at one of them, say the site from National Geographic, you will find wonderful images that go back pretty far in time. Even after being charmed by the images, their sheer number over time might feel overwhelming. Like there’s no way that you could appreciate all of them. But you don’t really have to take them all in to appreciate them, do you?
It’s so easy to feel that there’s no way to see it or understand it all. If you wanted a drink of water, you wouldn’t go stand under Niagara Falls and let that water pound onto you. Similarly no one can cope with all the photos and text available on the internet. So what is the solution to all that information? How can you cope with it to turn it in your favor instead of letting it pound you down?
To answer that, I want you to imagine that you have inherited a house with a room full of canned goods. They all are stamped with a date and they are all in date but none of them have their colorful labels to tell you what is in the can. What could you do to find out what is in each can? You would have to use a can opener. You would open one mysterious can every night at dinner to find out what is in the can. Then you would have to think of how to present it with the meal.
What I want to tell you is that instead of having a can opener to handle each part of the flood of information during the Information Age you have something better. Your ability to ask a question can be your can opener. If God is omniscient and God knows all information, it is also true that a human being can’t know everything. What helps us to cope with all the information that exists in the world is that we can narrow our search by asking a specific question. That question can open whichever mystery-can is the most useful at that moment. And the right questions can keep out the worst offenses of too much information that can create anxiety.
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After experiencing the information stressors that we’ve all experienced over that last several years, I have to say that it seems that information chaos has been worrisome. Every effort in mainstream media seems to have been made to increase information overload without helping people to ask the right questions that will help all of us to reduce the flood of information and the stresses that it brings.
When asking questions, it helps to ask pertininent questions that will help to resolve whatever worry brought you to that moment. When I was worried about whether the new m-RNA shots were safe, for example, one question that I asked was “What is the persistence of m-RNA in the body’s natural systems?”
The answer that I got is that m-RNA has a short timespan of persistence in the body. But when I read about researcher’s goals for the m-RNA jabs, I read that they tried to develop ways to prolong the persistence of their experimental messenger RNA. I decided that the jabs might not be safe if they could prolong the persistence of the m-RNA beyond the natural persistence that allows the body to maintain homeostasis (or the balancing act of proteins in the right concentration at the right time). That was a useful question in a sea of confusing information.
We do this selective questioning all the time whenever we try to decide for example, where to go on vacation (like when we ask what kind of vacation, in what climate, doing what activity). When I look at all the dystopic cultural press coverage I can hear on the radio or on TV, do you ever wonder if the people writing that copy are asking the right questions? It sounds like they are asking how to create scary confusion rather than social harmony through useful information.
Instead of asking scary questions, here are the questions that I wish broadcasting infotainers would ask:
How can we be more happy in our society?
How can more of us experience a more abundant lifestyle?
How can we shape future events for a better future than what we see now?
Where has our political and economic system taken a wrong turn and how do we get back onto the right track?
What guidelines worked in the historical past to curb people’s worst impulses and bring forward the best in all of us?
I have one last point to make.
I have heard that when the internet came along, people who read commentary formed a lot of negative views about other people. So much of commentary was negative that it reframed humanity as a darkness…a darkness of violence and greed and anger and lust and whatever other negative traits surfaced online.
The new window of the internet gave new access to people’s private dark thoughts and some of that darkness came into the public’s view. I don’t think that people’s dark side is present all the time in everyone. It isn’t our only potential. But seeing it come into focus for the first time on the internet made people lose respect for the grand human potential.
So if your opinion of humanity has been negatively influenced by the commentary you read on the internet, please realize that not everyone thinks in the negative way that someone was willing to express as commentary. Many people have happier perspectives that they keep quiet about and that you aren’t hearing. So ask the question:
“What are the good perspectives that you aren’t hearing or seeing?” Also, keep in mind that algorithms are affecting how information is curated on the internet. Those algorithms don’t curate information equally for every person nor does every view get equal play.