A while back I came across an e-book produced by a very popular blogger by the name of Seth Godin. He has several blogs and web pages (including lenses on Squiddo) and has also authored quite a few books...including the e-book that contains the article...that contains the idea...for this post (and for at least one other post yet to come) The book is called What Matters Now. Kind of an eclectic grouping of quotes, short (very short) articles and blog posts about a range of topics from a variety of authors. Be sure to check it out.
The article that caught my eye and birthed this post was about how web communication has changed...well...changed communication. But not just communication. It has also changed the way we search for answers...for truth...for knowledge. It has given us answers...but sometimes conflicting answers. It has given us questions without definitive answers...and plenty of questions, too. We may end up with more questions than when we started looking for answers. That can be a good thing.
The article mentions how, in times past, we mainly looked for our answers in books. And we found answers in books. But many of our questions don't have just one definitive answer. Oh sure.... algebraic equations or scientific formulas may have just one answer but there are an unlimited number of questions that do not. Like questions pertaining to theology and philosophy, baking, abortion, politics...morality...art.
Yep, for sure, art. A trip to the Carnegie Art Museum a few summers ago confirmed that art, like beauty, is definitely in the eye of the beholder. There is no carved in stone criteria for what is and what isn't art.
So books provide answers but answers that are filtered through the viewpoint of the author. Answers that are many times one sided and single dimensional.
But alas...the Internet...with its message boards....blogs....google (especially google)...has changed the way we search for information. As the article points out,
A hyperlinked world...the Web....is made for this way of networked knowing. A hyperlinked world includes all the differences and disagreements, and connects them to one another. We are all smarter for having these differences only a click away.
The challenge now is to learn how to evaluate, incorporate, respect, and learn from them. If we only listen to those who are like us, we will squander the great opportunity before us: To live together peacefully in a world of unresolved differences.
Yes, that is the challenge. THE challenge. One needs only to join a yahoo e-list to realize that we aren't there yet. THE challenge looms in front of us.
My quest for answers on the Internet changed my life. It continues to change my life. It has inspired my spiritual growth to travel along at warp speed. While searching for answers, I just so happened to find my husband on Tentmaker, a UR message board. I have found friends online who have embedded themselves in my heart as deeply (if not deeper) than the people I interact with every day..in real life. (hi annie!!) And I have found people with opinions I vehemently disagree with. Sometimes I'm not all that crazy about the people who hold those opinions, yet I try to interact and disagree agreeably.
Perhaps some of the answers we find online have little to do with the questions we start out with or the topic at hand. Perhaps the answers we find have more to do with tolerance and respect and reigning in those emotional responses and learning "to live together peacefully in a world of unresolved differences."