Like an Elephants Buffet

Dr Asangba Tzudir

The early eighties saw the internet coming into operation and the computer had just been born. Since then, with technological revolution, new forms of knowledge and information have defined and redefined life and living. However, in this age of information, where the flow of information is overwhelming, it begs the question – How well-informed are we? Considering the flow of information it is expected for people to be more well-informed, yet, it has also added to misinformation and thereby confusion. There is also an attitudinal trend which is aptly reflected in the words of the noted American Professor Noam Chomsky. He once said, “The general population doesn’t know what’s happening, and it doesn’t even know that it doesn’t know.” It is only ironic for a people to be unperturbed by the realities and issues at hand. It has become contradictory because of our collective failure to truly seek knowledge and information, and because of which we have not let it serve the real purpose. This is a testament that we are becoming less informed in this age of information.    

While there is information and knowledge overload, being well-informed is vital to enhance the dissemination of right knowledge and information and for which it is imperative to have a well-grounded knowledge base. Now, with the various sources of information and knowledge, it presents another challenge to ascertain truth and the facts. On one level, one needs to apply the five (5) W’s and H – ‘who’, ‘what’, ‘where’, ‘when’, ‘why’, and ‘how’. While ‘why’ and ‘how’ can take information and knowledge to another level, it also helps in going through certain filters – the filter of truth, the filter of goodness, and the filter of usefulness in relation to what is being considered knowledge and information. This is bound to create meaningful returns in the larger context of building a well-informed society. 

Like an elephants’ buffet, we are fed with various forms of knowledge and information. Unless we learn how to eat the elephants buffet, it will only set a dangerous precedent because such inadequacies are bound to mislead and create more confusion as it is passed on. To cite an instance, with the advancement in information technology, websites especially, needs to be constantly updated and monitored for people to have access to authenticated and trusted information besides saving time. The state government has also been talking about ‘good governance’ towards transparency and accountability, and having their websites constantly updated is a mark of good governance and quality service.

Today, social media has become a very ‘popular’ platform to disseminate, news and information and knowledge. But, sadly, we have let technology and social media govern us. And with the coming of Artificial Intelligence into our lives, there is a danger of undermining our own intelligence. AI and its applications will no doubt save a lot of time in many ways for humans. But the mechanization of the human mind is a very concerning issue besides the other larger issues associated with AI control. 

As such being ‘well informed’ takes a new dimension. That, it is not simply about realizing the importance about the need to be well-informed but most importantly it connotes knowing what it means to be rationally well-informed. However, with the vast pool of knowledge and information, and considering the human limits, it is important that we do not bite more than we can chew from the elephants buffet.  

(Dr Asangba Tzudir writes a guest editorial for The Morung Express. Comments can be emailed to asangtz@gmail.com)