Confessions of an Information Junkie

Hello. My name is Jeremy and I am an Information Junkie.

I have been one all my life actually. No, I didn’t learn to read books before I learned to walk, but it was pretty close. Weekly trips to the library were one of my of favorite things to look forward to growing up. I devoured them. It was unusual for me to only check out one book at a time. I was super excited when my library started to lend magazines. How fresh the information flow…

Then the internet came of age when I was coming of age. I was floating around forums and spent a lot of time on irc before most people even knew about them. Heck, people use irc all the time and still don’t know what it is…

I downloaded software and pdf’s on a 14.4kbs modem. How crazy is that? I also knew of a time before Google. And how Metacrawler was the greatest search engine of all time because it searched on all the other best search engines at that time…

By the time I got to college my thirst for information reached it’s peak. I was excited to take classes on all kinds of crazy subjects. Law & Literature in China anyone? How about a class simply labeled Terrorism? How this class would be different after 9/11 I would never know…

The internet just got fuller and fuller. Early forms of blogs were coming out. Subscriptions were the coolest thing. You mean I don’t have to search through my massize bookmark list to check on all the sites I want to check on? Awesome! And with a shiny new ethernet connection provided by the college I could move around the web as fast as I could click my mouse…

Then terror upon terrors… Google claims to be king of the hill. And to be honest I love everything they are pumping out of their labs. But they fed my addiction even more. Google really did discover great algorithyms for finding the most relevant information. Hey, it’s not perfect, but what is? The point was I didn’t have to spend so much time finding anymore. I could spent a lot more time absorbing even more massive amounts of information like a sponge in the Pacific ocean…

We won’t talk about Napster, Amazon, eBay, Myspace, and all the other sites that have fed my deepest desires. No, it would be too much and take too much time. And its pointless anyway. No matter how differentiated they are they all begin to blend into one. Like I have reached some sort of internet nirvana or something…

Do I need to mention that I have spent countless hours on the internet just reading until my eyes burned? That my personal library of books numbers in the hundreds and the number of total books I have read numbers in the thousands? That I constantly ask for people opinions and thoughts on different subjects in search of even more ideas to add to the mix? What has all this brought me?

The label of an information junkie and the answers to all or nearly all of the world’s most pressing problems. And a ton of what many people would call “useless knowledge” to astound and amaze people…

What does all this mean? Well, some 1% of that knowledge and information has helped me live a better life. Heck, I might even go to 5%. That is what I have actually used. And that is what I have found to be actually useful. And actually applied!

What’s the point? I wouldn’t consider my time totally wasted, but I do think it could have been better spent gaining self-knowledge rather than external knowledge. And certainly better than all the entertainment knowledge I have absorbed.

Where am I now? I am battling my addiction. Learning to simplify. And learning to get rid of as much stuff that is not meaningful as possible. I am learning to come to terms with who I am. Much of life comes down to these things… Perspective, desire, and choice. Each leads into the other. And although I think much of the information I have gathered has helped me gain perspective it must ultimately lead to my true desires and the choices that I will make…

So like a block of marble, a masterpiece is made not by adding to it, but by chipping away and removing parts of it… So it is with my life from here on out…

The ideas presented here have some obvious implications when it comes to talking about education. I will touch on a few more points this week and then begin my weeklong series on education next week. Please subscribe using the link below so you won’t miss a thing…

Comments

  1. RUT-Ro. So, the Stumbleupon concept must be your biggest joy/nightmare!

    3am: just….one..more….stumble…

    Hehe. Been there, done that.

    George

    Tumblemoose’s last blog post..The inspired writer

  2. How interesting. Your childhood trips to the library remind me of my own. I remember how quiet the library was and how it smelled. Ah, those were the days, eh? :-)

    I haven’t gone quite as far as you have, I don’t think (insert asking myself “have I?” here). ;-) But I know what you mean. So much of what we read may or may not help us lead better lives. I think it helps us become better writers, though. Wouldn’t you agree?

    Great post, Jeremy! I look forward to your series on education!

    *smiles*
    Michele

    Michele’s last blog post..Interview with an E-book Author

  3. I am not a junkie but I LOVED this article. It is pithy and honest and I am proud of you for questioning. I am just now working on a video to get up today about living an experiential life.

    I encourage you to keep questioning Jeremy and making the changes that your heart already knows that you need. You are not only a quick study but you are emotionally intelligent. I have seen that all along. Don’t forget that or neglect that part of yourself. As it is beautiful and has SOOOOOOOOO much to offer the world.

    There is a great big world out there Jeremy that has nothing to do with computer. I wish for you…that in your lifetime you plug into it the way you are able to do with the computer. Because that world needs sensitive, intelligent, insightful and caring people like you. It needs YOU. You are amazing! remember that.

    Hugs to you,
    Robin

    Robin Easton’s last blog post..Is There Life on Earth?

  4. oh my gosh. I can totally relate. Our generation has grown up with the evolution of internet, instant messaging, cell phones, text messaging, and social media. It’s definitely important to draw lines and know your limits too though. Which can be hard to do, knowing the plethora of knowledge available out there on the world wide web!

    AverageGal’s last blog post..Contest Prize: Which Would You Choose?

  5. In your quest for self-awareness and in your desire to consume information, perhaps you could begin with one question:

    Did I seek the information or did it seek me?

    Also, remember that your first passion was books. Here are a few reasons why I prefer books and allocate them to approximately 60% of my information consumption:

    1. I seek books — they don’t seek me.
    2. Books do not have advertisements (at least not directly) or “pop-ups” or links to other information I wasn’t seeking.
    3. Books (the one’s I read) are timeless and require use of the mind / imagination, rather than something that occupies my mind / imagination.
    4. Books are not in the business of selling advertising — only of selling more books or of a particular idea or point of view.

    The other 40% of my media allocation is to blogs (only about 10) that I find useful and just a small amount of “mindless” entertainment, such as television, for times when I want to give my mind a rest.

    I enjoyed your thoughts today. Good luck with your “addiction!”

    Cheers…

    “The reading of all good books is indeed like a conversation with the noblest men of past centuries who were the authors of them, nay a carefully studied conversation, in which they reveal to us none but the best of their thoughts.” ~ Rene Descartes

  6. Ouch! Aren’t you being a little too harsh, Jeremy?

    Your brain (even my brain) supposedly has the capacity to absorb and “use” (relative term) more information than you will ever have time to collect and cram into it. Of course, that is where the concept of prioritizing comes in, isn’t it? Knowing when to push yourself away from Loderunner, I mean the computer is where it all begins.

  7. @ Yobaba – Maybe a little. It may seem extreme but I see it as taking a ton of effort just to get the ball rolling. Or maybe anti-effort I should say. I do agree. Our minds can process a lot of information. But the main point is to ask the question, “Am I wasting my time learning all this when I could be pursuing other activities?” It does come down to prioritizing, but it also comes down to defining what your priorities are. Check out my next article on this subject tomorrow.

    @ Kent – Great question. Although hard to answer. If this makes sense, I would tell you that I tend to just float around the sea of information, occasionally grasping onto things that get my attention. I like your idea of allocating a certain amount of your information consumption to books. Maybe I over-allocate the internet because it is free (sort of) and easier accessible. I am glad you enjoyed the food for thought, and I am glad to be part of your media allocation.

    @ AverageGal – haha, only a fellow nerd or perhaps movie buff would use the word plethora in a sentence. I still love that word. anyhow, welcome to the club. You ready for our next group session?

    @ Robin – thank you for your kind words. your gift for encouragement shines through as well. the earth is certainly better off with you here as well.

    @ Michele – Ah yes, I remember my library days fondly. To be honest, I know a lot of people and nobody seems to come very close to how prolific I am in my reading. I really do amaze people. People constantly ask me how much time I spend reading and on the internet. Untold hours is the answer. I really do need a time out. I will say that yes, all this reading has certainly made me a better writer. I can’t deny that. Although there are better writers that have read a lot less than me out there. I figure I just need to write as much as I read and I will be a much better writer. As long as my focus is on perfecting my craft and not just pumping out more garbage, I think I will do alright.

    @ George – haha, peas in a pod we are. You are right, SU is a love/hate relationship. Im sure you have read my SU articles. How many other bloggers do you know, besides those writing about Social Media, take the time to write not just one, but two very long articles about making better use of SU? Just for fun here is what I will be saying to myself in a few minutes…

    must….get…. offff…..line!

    Cheers,
    Jeremy ;-)

  8. Hello,

    The internet is a great tool but some do abuse it.

    I believe life is an endless education.So I agree with you on never getting enough knowledge.

    As for as Myspace,I was on a few years back.I had a great many friends who shared an interests in footy.
    Because I follow the EUFA,this was great.

    Until off-season;)

    Bunny got Blog’s last blog post..Socialization, Charisma, And The Career Girl

  9. This is a common observation among Chinese (kung fu) teachers visiting the United States. Students here refuse to practice a new exercise until they have been told “how to do it”. Of course, you learn how to do it by doing it! Nevertheless, this attitude forces the use of many palliative but otherwise somewhat useless lectures.

    Chris | Martial Development’s last blog post..How to Learn Zhan Zhuang From a Book

  10. Hi Chris,

    I understand where you are coming from. However, may I point out that there are kinesthetic, auditory, and visual learners. Sounds like you are a kinesthetic learner. I am a visual learner. I just have to watch people and I can mimic them pretty well. Some people need to be told how to do it, as you say. I have trained in the martial arts and I can say I learnt best by watching people perform the katas. I think an effective teacher learns the best way to teach a student, even if it is not their preferred method.

    Cheers,
    Jeremy

  11. Technically, I am a bumbling learner. And the most important lesson I have learned is that I must tailor myself to the lesson, because it won’t tailor itself to me!

    Chris | Martial Development’s last blog post..Ip Man Goes to Hollywood

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