There are three big dynamics of the Information Age, and the technology of the Information Age, that work against our wisdom, making it hard to be wise. One is that there's just too much. There's an information overload, and it's overtaxing our brains. There's science showing that our brains, in this hyper-distracted age—with too much stimulation and too many things coming at them—are in a constant state of triage in which they're having to figure what information is important enough to file away vs. discard.
What that's doing is sucking up all of the brain's energy so that there's nothing left for the deep, reflective sort of thinking that is necessary for wisdom. So in a world where our brains are dizzy because of over-stimulation, they're literally being rewired so that we don't have the space for the kind of thinking that is necessary for wisdom. So that's one dynamic—the too-much-information problem.
The speed of the Information Age—the too-fast problem—is also significant. We live in this world where everything is focused on the now—Breaking news now! We forget what was breaking news yesterday, let alone last week. We have this constant addiction to novelty and what's next and what's new, and everything moves so fast. Every trend, every headline, everything is constantly changing, and I think there are speed traps that come along with that.
Helping believers navigate today’s media-saturated culture, Brett McCracken presents a biblical case for wisdom. Using the illustration of a Wisdom Pyramid, he points readers to more lasting and reliable sources of wisdom—not for their own glorification, but ultimately for God’s.
Fake news would be one example. When the speed of information dissemination is going so fast, we're prone to error. Misinformation can get out there and spread like wildfire, and that's a major problem of the speed of the Information Age. Then personally, as individuals, with social media for example, it creates a desire to post your instant reaction whenever something kind of angers you.
That leads to all sorts of problems, right? Wisdom would actually have us be silent and reflect a little bit before we post something on social media. But the speed of everything calls us to post first and think later, which leads to disaster. So there is the too-much dynamic, the too-fast dynamic, and then the third: too focused on me.
There’s an information overload, and it’s overtaxing our brains.
The orientation of technology today is focused on individuals. It's called the iPhone for a reason, right? Everything on your smartphone is custom fit—tailored to you as an individual. You have your own unique feed of media, people you follow on social media, news sources that you like. You can delete an app if you don't like it. You can unfollow someone who you don't like. And the algorithms, the AI [artificial intelligence], literally seeks to create the perfect fit for you so that what ends up happening is that everyone has their own reality.
We live in a world where there are billions of little versions of reality. No two are the same. Honestly, I think that's why we are so polarized and why there's so much division in the world. None of us are pulling from the same set of facts. None of us are seeing the same reality, and that has, in large part, to do with the algorithms and the technology that is interested in custom-fitting everything to the individual.
Brett McCracken is the author of The Wisdom Pyramid: Feeding Your Soul in a Post-Truth World.
Wisdom is, first and foremost, from the Lord. When you desire wisdom, be encouraged to go to him and his word in prayer.
Technology is not itself bad, nor is it innocuous. Though we’re not all aware of how we are being changed by our digital habits, we are being changed nonetheless.
If we can get digital technology under control, we will do so much better—physically, intellectually, relationally, vocationally, educationally, financially, emotionally, and spiritually.
To do theology we need to do with an attitude of reverence to the God who has made himself known in his Word.