Tag Archives: information

How do you turn off the noise?

Wow! By Tyler Ramsey

I was wondering this as yet another day unfolded and people told stories about how they feel overwhelmed by the world.

Society is changing and evolving at an amazing rate. Technology is going thousands of different directions at once. Everyday more information comes at us than we can absorb let alone manage, sort, and remember.

So how do we decide what to pay attention to and what to let slide by?

I’m not sure when it started but I’ve always been able to filter the world to an enormous degree. Most, who know me, would say it started with the Bush administration – but I could do it before that. I did it in college. When I went to see “The Crying Game” in the theater months after the academy awards I had no idea what the twist was. I had carefully positioned myself to preserve my ignorance.

I also found, after my self-imposed exile from all forms of news, that the world hadn’t changed much. It was only three years, then up for air for a year, then back down with my head in the sand so I couldn’t hear.

Where my avoidance of the news is concerned I am a little appalled by my behavior. I should have made a stand for what I believed in, commented on what I saw happening. But I didn’t. I was too appalled, too horror struck by what we were doing and where we were going. Self imposed isolation was preferable.

But I was talking about information – that incredible flow that never stops – all the new technologies keeping us in touch, informed, in the loop. And with all this new information that we are constantly being bombarded with, how do we know what is important?   

That really is the question. How do we know what we need to pay attention to and what we can ignore?  

In order for me to write I have to limit distraction. At the same time I have to have a constant supply of new information, ideas, knowledge, and conversations in order to keep my mind healthy and active. I’ve found that when I don’t have this constant influx I stagnate. Yet somehow I have to also have the silence that place without distractions or connections, where I can be free to live inside my head.

Finding the balance is difficult. It may even be impossible.

How do you find that place in-between – or do you find yourself being subsumed by the noise drowning in information?

~ Tess Anderson

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Privacy.

This blog is a big step for me. I’m not really a public person. I love to write – and I want to make my living as a writer – and the blog lets me choose to write about things I’m interested in – it give me a soapbox to stand on.

But…

A lot of this terrifies me. I don’t like sharing my life with strangers – and the fact that last week I did – amazes me. On some level I know that I have to reveal pieces of myself in order to make this work. Yet at the same time I want to keep some level of autonomy and privacy.

In our society it is difficult to find privacy. We are constantly being monitored and watched. Yet because of what this provides us, the convenience of it, we don’t even notice.

We have given up our privacy without a struggle.

From the moment you log onto the web, drive your car, pick up your cell phone, walk out on the street of any major city, or walk into a business – you are being monitored.

Please – don’t think I’m paranoid, I’m not. It is simply a fact of our world that technology has stripped away our privacy. I’m just surprised more people aren’t talking about it.

It is about information.

  • Constantly people are collecting data on us. From our phone carrier, our credit card companies, to the stores that we shop at – with their “benefit cards” that give us a percent off our purchases and track our buying habits, to the websites we visit.
  • Internet Explorer (IE) has finally created a privacy mode for searching the web. I live alone and yet I would still prefer not to have all of my searches and sites recorded. I don’t let IE record my passwords and I would prefer that certain sites – like Facebook, Hulu, and Netflix – not remember me and keep me logged in for weeks at a time.

Granted this is all about convenience and the more data stored the less you have to remember.

It is also about safety.

  • The 911 System can find you – if they have the software – because all phones now have GPS. You can turn it off for everything but the 911 System – but if you do there are all sorts of cool applications for your Smartphone – like finding the nearest coffee shop – that won’t function. So you are constantly telling someone the location of your phone – and therefore you.
  • OnStar has ads about their ability to help you in an emergency. They know if your air bag has been deployed and can assist getting emergency vehicles to you. They can also control your car – flash lights and turn off the engine – if it is stolen.

It is about security.

  • Cities and businesses trying to minimize accidents and crime by monitoring everything from traffic flow to the cash box. And don’t forget those cameras at intersections to prevent people from running red lights.

So what do we do with all of this?

How do we even feel? I hate being on camera and am always aware of the ones being held by families and tourists. But I can’t avoid all of them. I’m not sure I like being watched and I’m not sure you can hide in the noise.

It concerns me that we are not having conversations about this. We are letting our technology lead and I’m not sure where it is taking us. There is value here – I do know that – but someone has to ask what we are giving up to have it.

Where do my personal rights end and societies right to monitor me begin?  

You are probably thinking, “Where is the downside in all this – I can’t see it?” I know, for most of us – good law abiding citizens that we are – we think that only the bad guys are being affected by this. But I wonder… has anyone looked at the implications?

Information isn’t safe. Data can be found, hacked, bought. And there is so much data out there – and the science around it is getting more and more sophisticated – at some point hiding in the noise won’t be an option.

I know they seem farfetched but if don’t start asking these questions now – when will we? And what will we have lost?

~ Tess Anderson

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