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  1. #1
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    Default Information Anxiety

    Firstly, an apology: this post will, almost by necessity, be unfocused and meandering.

    I've lately become anxious over the extent of my own ignorance. Only a few years ago, I would quite happily have accepted that I knew next to nothing about politics, history, science, etc. I mainly knew about rap music and The Simpsons. I think I was happier then.

    Now, I feel like I have some sort of responsibility, to both society and myself, to be well informed. The trouble is, I don't have nearly enough time in the day to be nearly well-informed enough. Also, I feel like everything I read might well be revealed, by some other article or book I've not read and don't have time to read, to be bollocks, except that when I read it I am inclined (and, given aforementioned time restrictions, almost obliged) to believe it to be correct.

    Is this an anxiety that others on here experience? Perhaps the sheer tumult of information and competing opinion that the internet has released is something to do with it. What do people do on here to be well-informed? Do others feels that they SHOULD be well-informed, and - if so - should this aim be confined to certain specific areas of information, given that every area of information is so labyrinthine and complex that it's well-nigh impossible to be well informed about even ONE thing?

    In summary:

    Last edited by Corpsey; 09-09-2016 at 10:52 AM.

  2. #2
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    This has been weighing upon my mind lately, like a pile of unread books - like the pile of unread books, in fact, which lie next to my bed.

    But this thread was prompted by this article http://www.newyorker.com/news/daily-...what-is-aleppo

    Of course, a political candidate should know all about the Syrian war. But, shamefully enough, I wouldn't have known what 'Aleppo' was either, if you'd asked me without pre-warning me to bone up on world affairs. I should know about the Syrian war, shouldn't I? But then, what good is it that I do know about it? I suppose because it shapes my attitude towards, say, immigration and the refugee crisis, and that attitude will naturally be disseminated through my circle of acquaintances and beyond?

  3. #3
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    Default



    The information like art, it hurt the race
    Because we judge before we classify
    It's like a cage, human race has failed
    Even though we in space we still hate ourselves
    The age of information is hell

  4. #4
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    Default

    the feeling is understandable and human, but there's no way you can be up on everything and the people who pretend to be are usually just blowhards. the majority of people you're anxious about "keeping up" with on all these topics are probably equally or even less informed than you are.

    social media exacerbates the anxiety, makes it seem like everyone out there has an expert opinion on everything. it's an illusion, and you'll always be disappointed if you strive for what realistically is an unattainable level of expertise. i also think the anxiety lessens with age: as you get older, you give less of a shit what other people think/say/do.

    i'm hardly an expert, but my advice is to remain inquisitive on topics of interest and stay open to new areas of interest, but don't torture yourself in trying to be all-knowing.
    Last edited by Leo; 09-09-2016 at 04:23 PM.

  5. #5
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    It's the postmodern condition, innit.

    Some sage advice from Leo, there.

    Alternatively, you could try and know literally everything there is to know, but to do so you'd probably have to read - oh, picking a figure entirely out of the air - at least 150 books a year.
    Doin' the Lambeth Warp New: DISSENSUS - THE NOVEL - PM me your email address and I'll add you

  6. #6
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    Great idea for a thread, and I think Leo's answer contains a great deal of truth - it is easy to be hoodwinked that others are more well-informed/expert than they actually are.

    My pov these days is that I prefer to read books and articles that attempt to make connections between different disciplines, attempt to join the dots between all the different areas of knowledge that there are, try to make sense of the world in a broader way. For example, you mentioned Syria - I really like Patrick Cockburn's writing, because he writes not only about his interpretation of events on the ground, but about the difficulty of ever understanding 100% what is going on, owing to - for example - the various ways that the pressures of the 24 hour news agenda warp and shape what 'reality' of events is presented in the media. And he also presents region-wide context for what is happening/has happened in Syria, both geographically and historically.


    PS 'What is Aleppo?' will surely be sampled by someone, if it hasn't been already. Another bizarre TV moment for 2016.

  7. #7
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    Basically what Leo said but also worth remembering what Oliver James said about Affluenza - people have a tendency to compare themselves only to people better off than them. He was talking about wealth but the same is true of knowledge, cultural capital etc.

    There is almost certainly a tonne of stuff you know about that most other people don't - you won't find that out online but if you do get into conversation with people at work or in the pub or whatever it's a good reminder that there are areas you are quite clued up on without knowing about it and also the same is true of other people - often surprisingly.

    If you believe those tabloid surveys quite a few people know much less than you might think:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/2345355.stm

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/gene...this-year.html

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