By Silas Hood, April 25, 2023
In our modern day, the vast amount of information available to us can be overwhelming, but it is a challenge that we must learn to navigate. Be it technological advancements or changes in domestic and global economics and politics, being knowledgeable of current events can help us make informed decisions and allow us to take advantage of new opportunities.
Our access to information is a double-edged sword as many people struggle with information overload which causes hardship in understanding and decision making due to an inability to process all the data available to us. However, it is essential that we do not become complacent in our knowledge-seeking efforts. The world is changing rapidly, and those who do not keep up risk getting left behind or blindsided, both of which I do not wish on anyone.
One way to do this is to start by focusing on the fundamentals. Developing a solid understanding of the core concepts and underlying principles of a topic allows us to better contextualize new information and evaluate its significance. I implore people to take time with things they are interested in, to step back and think of the interconnected basic aspects to these topics.
In a bigger picture, we must recognize that we live in a globalized world. While domestic political and economic events are important to our everyday life, we have to pay attention to what transpires internationally because external events influence us and require recognition of their global effect. I advocate starting from an international perspective, which has personally transformed my understanding of the world and is vital for a better, more well informed society.
A second aspect of staying informed is persistence. While it may be tempting and surely a whole lot easier to rely on news snippets and soundbites, true knowledge requires in-depth exploration and ongoing engagement with a topic. It may take time to change old habits, but continuing to expose ourselves to topics we find interesting ultimately leads us to a greater understanding for ourselves and our community.
This can take shape in subscribing to industry and independent publications for habitual engagement, taking part in discussions to expand on ideas and joining in-person or online communities to stay informed of the latest developments by collaborative information sourcing like group chats and forums.
It is essential that modern consumers of media learn to be critical. Effectively evaluating a source’s reliability, credibility and potential mis or disinformation is an important skill that takes time to develop and is something we all have to be aware of.
Disinformation is growing concern with the development of AI platforms enabling deepfakes and other methods which have already been utilized in the Russia-Ukraine war. Just as the development of technologies to perpetuate this issue continues, so too have emergent fact-checking tools and services come about.
We may also counter this information issue with a good general practice of seeking out diverse perspectives and viewpoints about a topic to gain a more balanced perspective. This can be challenging, especially in a time of increasing polarization, but exposing ourselves to a variety of ideas and opinions from varied sources can help us develop a more well-rounded understanding of complex issues. This may require seeking out content from varied partisanship, watching the opposition to what you have read or heard, or better yet, engaging in debates and discussions with those who hold opposing views.
Most importantly, it is crucial to stay engaged with the world around us. This means not only consuming information but actively participating in conversations and decisions that shape our future. Whether it is volunteering for a cause we believe in, participating in our communities, writing an article or posting a video to an online audience or contacting our elected representatives to voice our concerns, being an active participant in society can help us stay informed, stay connected and be empowered.
I cannot stress this aspect enough: a motive without action will never see its potential effect.
Ultimately, staying informed is about more than just acquiring knowledge for its own sake. While I wish it was easier as I know how hard the above processes can be, this is about empowering ourselves to make better decisions both for us and for society as a whole. It is our responsibility to learn how to navigate the information reality before us for ourselves and to teach to those beyond us.
Staying educated and navigating the modern world of information requires a combination of curiosity, critical thinking, open-mindedness and active engagement. By recognizing the importance of staying informed and being intentional about the information we consume by seeking out diverse perspectives and participating in the world around us, we can navigate our complex and rapidly changing reality with greater confidence and purpose.
Feature image by Jackson Gray
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