in the age of information, silence is a weapon

i recently came to think about ‘sharing‘ when my friend shared an article she horribly disagreed with. in her eloquent and page turning way she pointed out everything that was wrong with it. yet, more than the content of the article or even her outrage with it, it was the fact that she shared it that made me think.

it is interesting, isn’t it? where once the content on what is published and read was drastically controlled and regulated, the invention of the world wide web of information, sharing, and high speed access to the globe burst open the cage of regulations. the web is too fast, too flexible, too big as if it could be controlled by a single state.

but what happens when information is available? for (almost) each and everyone? (almost) anytime? (almost) anywhere?

it is not just the state that sometimes wishes to control information. think about yourself. think about something you see or hear or read and you feel is so horrible or so wrong or just rubbish. what do you do with it? in an age where the average person under the age of 50 gets a weird look from others when uttering the statement of no-available-presence online and the share-button has become the most used tool in the web window, the first reaction with anything – anything great, horrifying, astonishing, inspiring, infuriating – literally anything! – is to share it with others. it is only the boring, the swipe-over, the mh-h-and forgotten in the next second sort of webpages, ideas, pictures, clips and texts that get lost in the action.

it is fascinating, really, how the brain was able to adapt to this massive increase in information. when i sit down at the computer with my grandmother, who by now, i have to proudly state, is not just able to turn the computer on and off by herself but at the stage where she is comfortable writing an email without tutoring, she points at adds and pop-ups that i would not have even noticed if it was not for her finger pointing. so, what conclusion do we draw if we realize that the development towards mass information ended up with us sorting through information and just picking the things we find particularly curious or odd or valuable or weird or whatnot. i guess in the end the invention of limitless information enabled us to focus more specifically on what we want and thereby enlarges and limits our view of the world at the same time.

but more importantly than that, half of the information (i do not have any figures but my personal impression and experience) we find online is shared by one person we know or even a friend of a friend of a friend… we share. and we share what is interesting to us. in one way or another. positively or negatively. but we share.

but what happens if we share something we dislike or disagree with? we put the information out there. it might be with comments of disgust and everything but we still put it out there. we still help distribute the information. and who knows if there might not just be someone reading, seeing or hearing the same information we just shared and thinks ‘well, actually…’. so, i cannot help to conclude, ironically enough, that in the age of sharing, non-sharing is actually the more powerful weapon.

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