Thursday, December 4, 2008

Much Ado About Nothing?

As a communications practitioner since the early ‘70s, I have been fascinated by words, written and spoken. But I suspect centuries from now, historians and sociologists analyzing our society may reach a conclusion similar to this: “Never in the history of mankind was so much said by so many – about so little.”

We live in an age of 24/7 communication, with countless voices pleading for attention on talk shows, over the Internet, message boards, e-mail, text messaging…even blogs like this one. Traditional media – TV, radio, newspapers and magazines – still exist but lack immediacy. The thirst for gathering and disseminating information has become unquenchable, demanding instant gratification.

The problem is that while the number of those eager to speak out seems limitless, the subject matter is finite. So we hear and read pundits and fanatics, those truly in the know as well as know-it-alls, all airing views relentlessly about the same subject matter – often resulting in a collective sharing of ignorance.

Topics may involve something relatively inconsequential, such as what’s wrong with your favorite football team, or something of greater substance – how to heal the troubled economy, or achieve world peace. But doesn’t it sometimes feel like everyone is saying the same things over and over, just in slightly different ways?

One of my lifelong shortcomings has been putting my mouth in gear while my mind was still in park. Then I came across a helpful Bible verse, one that could easily be applied to the communications glut that threatens to drown us all. It states, “When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise” (Proverbs 10:19). Or as Abraham Lincoln once said, “It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open one's mouth and remove all doubt.”

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