February 18, 2021

Know Better

We observe how when a spotlight is directed on one thing, the surrounding objects are cast into relative darkness. It is the intervention of the spotlight that creates the dynamic of light and shade – the sharper the focus on one thing, the more of the surrounding is subdued by the shade. It is very often an unintentional syndrome – particular when it comes to knowledge sharing.

Perhaps it is information overload but one thing I have noticed is that for the mass adoption of a new idea, it really needs a focused spotlight. When we accept a global and connected existence, we accept that there is a lot of things we need to be ‘aware’ of and our brains weren’t meant to be information superhighways. The advantage of putting one thing into the ‘spotlight’ is a deliberate and savage edit of the knowledge down to a ‘byte’ that is snack-sized and digested by busy people carrying too much cognitive load so that they have ‘awareness’.

And so I have been reflecting on whether being ‘aware’ is sufficient – or are we trading in our ‘knowing’ for a junk food version of it – ‘awareness’.

What does it mean to know something? I mean something important, not simply the recall of facts. It is less important to know that Germany invaded Poland on 1 September 1939 as it is to understand the sentiments, the movements and themes that led the vast majority of countries into a conflict that would create 85 million fatalities – many of whom were civilians.

Knowledge is not about the spotlight – knowledge is about exploring the darkness.

The art of ‘knowing’ is called philosophy – and yet a very important distinction is that philosophy is not about ‘having’ knowledge – philosophy is strictly to love knowledge.

You add a few algorithms that direct our respective spotlights onto the stuff we like – and without you even realising, so much slips away and out of focus.

Curiosity is the cure. Explore knowledge and rekindle the love.


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