This is what computer scientist and futurist Ray Kurzweil had to say about the effect of the modern information era:
People think the world is getting worse. … That’s the perception. What’s actually happening is our information about what’s wrong in the world is getting better. A century ago, there would be a battle that wiped out the next village, you’d never even hear about it. Now there’s an incident halfway around the globe and we not only hear about it, we experience it.
We are living in an information maelstrom where there’s always ‘breaking news.’ Every event feels like it is happening right outside our doorstep. The Turkish coup two weeks ago felt like the world was coming to an end. The teen that killed nine people in Munich felt like it could have been at any local McDonalds.
Paris and New York are nearly four thousand miles apart but joined at the hip. It is not just Isis; it is the always-on nature of the Internet that’s contributing to unnecessary anxiety.
We live in a world of urgency which often leads to aimless web surfing for the next story. I like what comedian Aziz Ansari said on the Freakonomics podcast about managing your Internet browsing.
“Like, here’s a test, OK. Take, like, your nightly or morning browse of the Internet, right? Your Facebook feed, Instagram feed, Twitter, whatever. OK if someone every morning was like, I’m gonna print this and give you a bound copy of all this stuff you read so you don’t have to use the Internet. You can just get a bound copy of it. Would you read that book? No! You’d be like, this book sucks. There’s a link to some article about a horse that found its owner somehow. It’s not that interesting.”
Internet addiction is real, and the incessant news is killing us.