Editor’s Column: Are we becoming knowledge resistant?

We have more access to information than any generation that has ever lived on this planet. Educating ourselves, even as adults, can now be done in the comfort of our own homes via online classes and programs.

Niki Turner

And yet, in the face of this wealth of potential knowledge that’s available to us, I fear we are at risk of becoming “knowledge resistant.”
I used to assume the people who bought copies of the National Enquirer at the grocery store checkout bought them for entertainment, the way I bought a comic book or a copy of Mad magazine. I’m sure some do, but I was traumatized when I realized some folks actually believe those crazy stories: “Garden of Eden Found; U.S. grows new tree from seed,” “Bigfoot Kept Lumberjack as Love Slave,” and “Bat Boy Sighted in New York Subway.” (Actual tabloid headlines, by the way.)
The arrival of cable television, and the internet brought us a treasure trove of learning opportunities, and at the same time birthed a whole new world of tabloid-esque TV channels, websites and social media posts. We’re deluged daily with mass quantities of information, more than any generation before us has ever seen. But information and knowledge are not the same thing.
Information is just data. Figuring out what to do with that data is knowledge.
Our modern influx of frequently useless information hits us so hard and fast we lose the ability to process it into anything useful, and we end up watching videos of cats sliding into glass doors.
Let’s step away from the mindless stream of random information and aim for some knowledge. I think we’ll be happier.

Did you watch the State of the Union address? I missed it. I was at a meeting doing that participating-in-local-community thing. When I got home the reactionary tweets and posts online reminded me of a high school pep rally gone awry. (I’m beginning to think cable news and social media might be the seeds of our civilization’s doom.)
Since when is it OK to hatefully condemn everyone who disagrees with us?
I disagree with almost everybody most of the time, but I don’t condemn them (OK, sometimes I do, but I’m working on it). The point is, they’re entitled to their opinions and to the free expression of those opinions, even if I think they’re wrong. That’s the whole “freedom of speech” thing in the Constitution.
When did we start condemning people for failing to exhibit an expected degree of loyalty and/or idolatry for a person, party, position or symbol?
In a free country, everyone is entitled to his or her opinion, right or wrong, and to freedom of expression about that opinion. It’s fine to have an opinion, it’s not fine to try and force someone else to agree with your opinion through coercion, manipulation or violence. That’s contrary to the freedom we’re so proud of as U.S. citizens. It’s the very thing we’ve sent soldiers to war over in other nations for generations­­, to fight for the rights of other humans to have the same kinds of freedom we enjoy.
We need to be wary of those who demand our allegiance to a political position or party at the cost of our freedom of expression, no matter which side of the aisle they come from.

We’re doing something fun next week to celebrate Valentine’s Day. We’ll have a special section of classified “love notes” where you can tell your Valentine how you feel about them. Or maybe let that secret crush know you’re thinking of them. For $5, it’s cheaper than a card, and longer lasting. The ones that have already come in are really sweet.
Call 970-878-4017 or email accounts@theheraldtimes.com before 3 p.m. Tuesday to get your Valentine’s Day message into next week’s paper!