Life in Our Info-Sphere

When I’m excited about something or at the end of the day when I’m tired, I am inclined to talk in a Noah short hand. Subject to both of these conditions the other night and concurrently waving my hand in you-know-what-I-mean circles while speaking to my wife, I said something like, “Of course he couldn’t understand he wasn’t being just with others. It just wasn’t in his info-sphere.” And she looked at me with wanting to understand but wanting a little more info on just what I meant. So here goes.

All of us live in our own info-sphere, our own world of information. Our info-sphere is not only what we know about our world, it is also how we know our world, and how we translate what we know to ourselves. Our notions of love, work, and justice are only a few of the self-definitions born in our info-sphere.

All of us are raised in an info-sphere. The info-sphere can be, and usually is, a mix of family, immediate socio/economic circle, belief/church circle, and anything else circling close to us – and ultimately through us. These formative info circles are the spheres of influence that most influence us.

Across time we may travel in new circles and these circles may further circle us with information but if anything they only further construct and constrain what and how we know anything because this is what our info-sphere’s filtering system will allow us to know. “We don’t see the world as it is,” said Anais Nin, “we see the world as we are.”

Our info-sphere is a jealous guardian at the gate of free will. What we know influences what we will come to know if only by what we refuse to know. Oh I know there will be some who disagree with this but that is primarily because of what they’ve already decided they know, want to know, and how they know anything. Once we make up our mind our mind makes us.

Even if we choose to completely refuse the influence of our parents and early community info-spheres, we are inversely being directed and channeled into a reaction syndrome info-sphere. The positive ground we stand on is also framed by what we negate. If I choose to disagree with you, I still need your premise as the foundational negative basement to my opinion. Free will is not free of the bias of its own perspective. All personal history comes with a person. Too often we are more articulate about what we are against than where we stand.

That all of us live in our own info-sphere doesn’t mean we don’t share this world with others. Often times nothing is more reassuring that having the company of those who consciously, subconsciously, or unconsciously know the world with a shared understanding. This is not only true for religious radicals but also folks who have a shared secret handshake in a social/business/let’s have lunch and agree with each other organization. On life’s journey it can be great to have company but every company has its own company policies.

That we all live in an info-sphere is in itself is not a pejorative state of what is. What is important however is bearing witness to our info-sphere, how we got there, and whether we agree with where it is literally taking us before we wake up down the road and ask, “How the hell did I get to be the guy who just said that?”

Much of the info in our info-sphere might be less informative and more us just taking to ourselves about how right we are. “We don’t live in the information age,” wrote Jonathan Nolan in The New Yorker, “that would be an insult to information, which on some level, is supposed to inform. We live in the in communication age.”

Our info-spheres are not stamped on our passports. They are stamped in and how we are. Check out the info-sphere you live in and how it lives in you. Sometimes what is just fine for us is a long way from being just. Knowing this can make not just a difference but a just difference in our life. And the lives of others.

Noah benShea
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