Brief Instructions for Overcoming the Anxiety of Informational Abundance

1/ The Internet results in a world of informational abundance—more information than we could ever process, from a dizzying number and variety of sources.

2/ Assertion: This abundance is catalyzing the realization of more diverse, complex, and fragmented human identities/worldviews than have ever existed.

3/ We are becoming fluid mosaics comprised of innumerable micro-experiences and shards of information from a near-endless and ever-growing number of sources.

4/ As we swim through numerous intermelding oceans of ideology, intention, culture, and perspective, near-infinite bits of information from countless contexts and belief systems are filtered by our minds and synthesized into a vast patchwork tapestry of identity/worldview.

5/ Despite filter bubbles counteracting this trend toward identity-/worldview-expansion, no one can remain purely static in the Internet age without being willfully blind/deaf.

6/ One must choose the anxiety of closing oneself off to informational abundance or the anxiety of opening oneself up to it.

7/ The anxiety of closing oneself functions as follows: One maintains an obstinate tribalism and false certainty in the face of mountains of evidence of one’s worldview’s incompleteness, resulting in severe cognitive dissonance, a fierce need to always be “right,” and a vague, almost-unconscious, gnawing sense that one is actually a fraud.

8/ Contrarily, the anxiety of opening oneself functions in the following way: One admits that one’s worldview is incomplete—that one actually “knows” very little in an absolute sense—and begins attempting to refine/expand one’s worldview to account for new information; in an age of informational abundance, one quickly notices that this entails changing one’s mind in subtle or significant ways all the time, every day; this process can be overwhelming and unsettling, especially at first.

9/ The only way to overcome the anxiety entirely (not that I have) is to embrace flux of identity/worldview; to accept deeply the idea of “grey pilling” oneself forevermore; to relinquish the need for the security of a static, unchanging identity/worldview; and to see the beauty and honesty in doing so.

10/ If one can accept a fluid, ever-changing state of being and open oneself up to an unending process of refining and rearranging one’s worldview/being, one may find a certain rapture in the Internet’s eternal wellspring of new information/experiences; one may find a spectacular opportunity to explore, to remain forever curious, and to make peace with the immense uncertainty inherent in the human condition.

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informational abundance in the internet age fragmentation of identity context becoming internet age grey pill

22,2, a QR poem by Genco Gulan. Credit: Wiki Commons

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About Jordan Bates

Jordan Bates is a Lover of God, healer, mentor of leaders, writer, and music maker. The best way to keep up with his work is to join nearly 7,000 people who read his Substack newsletter.

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7 years ago

The maelstrom! The collapse of literate identity narratives! Mind and heart exploded open and exposed to the sublime beauty and fanatical horror of humanity and our existential-historical situation! Visions of telepathic utopias contrasted with the apocalypic rise of the Apes! Pokemon! Zombies! Harambe! My, oh my.

7 years ago

Interesting. The art of shaping digital infrastructure to be of benefit rather than harm to users is definitely an underappreciated topic. Keep up the good work.

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