Monday, September 20, 2010

Do Blogs Create a Poverty of Attention?

"What information consumes is rather obvious: it consumes the attention of its recipients. Hence a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention, and a need to allocate that attention efficiently among the over-abundance of information sources that might consume it."
So said Herbert Alexander Simon (1915-2001), American social scientist, economist and Nobel Laureate.

When I read the above quote, it occurred to me we could substitute the word "Blog" or "internet" for "information" in the piece. I sometimes think we are all drowning in the over-abundance of information at our finger tips.

My father died when I was nine. My mother kept his memory alive in my mind by telling me many things about him. She thought he, Benjamin Wilson Baird, was very wise and often mentioned to me his beliefs and his understanding of issues.

In Mama's amazing love and respect for this man, she seemed to think her husband and my father, Benjamin Wilson Baird, had the last word on matters of faith and values.

For example, she told me one time, in conversation about theology, "I don't think your daddy would agree with that."
In conversation Mama mentioned to me about a time early on when their church was questioning about the influence of "movies" or "picture shows" on the lives of adults as well as children. Mama told me about my father's view on this issue about whether or not Christians should be spending time at the movies.

This was before Hollywood's binge on violence and gratuitous sex. Even before Clark Gable and Gone With the Wind's famous "damn." We have a different set of issues today.

Anyway, Mama said Papa did not see movies as a problem as such for Christians to see and enjoy. The major problem with movies ,Wilson Baird thought, she told me, was our taking time away from more important ways one could be spending our precious allotment of time which brings us back to the quote by Alexander Simon.

Psalms 90 reminds us that in the eyes of God, "1000 years is as a day when it is past," and goes on to tell us "so teach us to number our days." If we should live to be 100, it is a brief time in the light of eternity. So life here is a preparation for life eternally.

But this does not mean we are to keep our noses to the grindstone. We all need recreation and leisure time. From my mother's point of view, Papa had a good sense of humor and they found much to enjoy and laugh about.

But we have to make some choice about how we spend our precious allotment of time.


Jane said...

This was a great post, Aunt Ruth. I especially loved the insight into the mind of my grandfather. I am guilty of not using my time wisely. I needed to hear your words today.
Please continue to share your memories. I love it.

Debi Lewis said...

Amen! I am amazed by the people who just "kill time." I remember my Daddy saying, "Time is that stuff of which life is made." Far too precious to spend much of it watching television or movies. Debi said...

To my mind everybody have to glance at it.