You might be an information junkie if...

"Info Junkie"

Each individual has a unique world view, as unique as that person is. It stands to reason that no one can have an accurate world view, because no one has a full view of the diversity of the world. Also by this, the more information about the world that I can accumulate, the more accurate world view I can achieve.

As a human I am a product of my environment. If my environment over time had been different over time, then I would be now a person other than the one that I am. Also, along the line I have chosen my environment, by choosing different paths to different places and situations. One decision inevitably leads to another. I have influenced what has come to me, finding it for myself. I interact with my environment, while it interacts with me, each influencing the outcome of the other.

I believe that this attitude toward my environment was fostered by my parents during my childhood. I was very often left to make decisions about myself for myself. My elders taught me very little of ethics, morality, or mythology, and left me to find such information by myself. I discovered the Internet just before it blossomed into the huge sea of information it now is. It is a unique medium in that nearly anyone with information to share can do so, for anyone with an Internet connection to see. Not every idea is published in written form, because not every idea is popular enough to be profitable doing so. For better or worse, many of these most extraneous ideas have found preachers with Web-based pulpits. And a great many of them are interesting.

Because the Internet is overflowing with information, I have no shortage of it. The choices of reading material are overwhelming. I am often drawn to the odd ends of the Internet, made by people I’ll never meet (and never want to), and showing off the most bizarre ideas. By this my world view is expanded, and all the more jumbled.

Near the end of high school, my world view had all but matured, except for what I refused to learn from anybody: my spirituality. During Middle School, I tried to make myself more unique, and distance myself from everyone else’s thinking. Much of this came in alternative rock music. Like many other confused pre-teens, I let it influence my behavior.

As everyone has their own unique world view, there will be differences. The history of religion provides the perfect analogy for two ways of reconciling these differences: polytheism and monotheism. A monotheistic people righteously believes that it’s worship is of the one true, correct god. Anyone with differing ideas is obviously wrong. By contrast, a polytheistic people “agree to disagree”, because there are plenty of gods for everyone. History shows that polytheistic people very rarely fight religious or ideological wars. So (ergo), one can either stubbornly assume that his/her own ideas are the correct ones, or acknowledge that no one will see things exactly the same way, and be content that there is no one “right” answer. I think I have chosen the latter. However, it does not always work out that way.


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An Information Junkie's Manifesto

A man pulls into the driveway, mind rushing from the latte he just consumed. He has ideas about his lifestyle. He has regrets as well, but mainly ideas. He decides to put these ideas to paper, mainly to vocalize them - to expunge them from his system and get them out into the open. They have meaning on paper, they take on structure. He may or may not send these ideas out into the netherlands of the net, sent to fend for themselves among the electrons and digital feelings.

Maybe.

He goes to the mailbox to get the mail. Junk mail, like always. He never gets anything worthwhile in the snail mail. Glancing across the street he sees the neighbors house basking in the dim light of their streetlamp. They've always been nosy. So he never brought them a basket of fruit when they moved in. So he's never come to socialize when they walk their dog - he has more important things to do, more important people to meet. Sure they're online contacts, but that doesn't make them any less important. If the neighbors knew people online, they'd understand.

He fumbles around with the key trying to get it in the keyhole. The damn things always been stubborn, but it doesn't really bother him. It just allows him more time to think. Finally the key gives and slides into the keyhole and the door swings open. That familiar sound... It's like an old friend. It's lulled him to sleep more times than he can remember, and calmed him after many trials and tribulations. It's the hum from the computer fan.

He lets out a sigh and hangs his coat on the rack. The lights are off, but that doesn't matter - it just helps set the mood. Everything is right for contemplation. The hum from the monitor kicks in as it's turned on and synchronizes with the fan. It's a beautiful song sung a cappella that not many can appreciate.

As the screen fades to white, he opens the instant messenger of his choice. Only a few messages - nothing important. He then skims the web, visiting his haunts - perusing the words and paragraphs for information of importance. A message board post here, and email there - this is his second life. He once read a book about people who played a MOO, and how it affected their lives. His mind wanders as he recalls one passage in particular...

Some of the people who frequented this MOO went to see the server it was hosted on. The room it was hosted in was home to many other boxes hosting God knows what. When they finally found the beige box that hosted the MOO, a sense of unreality set in. All there was to their online lives was this box... The book was appropriately titled "My Tiny Life".

He snaps back to attention. What was he doing again? Ah yes... trying to put his thoughts into words. Why does he always feel the need to do this? Maybe it's the need to acquire a deeper understanding of why he lives like he does - why he chooses online relationships over real ones. Why he's outgoing online, while quite reserved in "the real world". Why he compares his hobby to a drug addiction. It's not that bad is it? No... can't be. And what if it was? Would it matter? It's not like he's harming himself... In fact, it's probably good for him. He's been better for it. He pulls information from around the world, expands his vocabulary and masters his writing skills. Surely being online can't be bad for him. But then there's that tinge of doubt again...

No no... he's letting the regrets overcome the ideas. Sure, he could have dated more here, been more outgoing there. He could have worked harder in school, been a model student. But in the end, which is more important? Living the lifestyle, or being successful. Some would say the two walk hand in hand, but he doesn't. Twenty dollars a month and one grand every four years or so keeps his vein hooked to the electronic pulse of the world.

Doubts doubts doubts... they're getting the best of him. Back to the ideas! But what are the ideas about his lifestyle? Aren't the conflicts between what the norm is and what he lives the very nature of the ideas? He doesn't even know anymore... he needs another latte.

And so he opens a new text file - like he's done many times before - and begins to type. He may or may not send the words spinning into the net. He hasn't decided. Maybe people will just think him odd - twisted and out of touch with reality. Or maybe he'll receive praise for his thoughts from people like him. He lets out a quick laugh. Who cares? You'll never see most of these people anyway. But he does care. He's closer to some of his friends online than he could ever hope to be with anyone "in real life".

"In real life"... he ponders the popular phrase for a few moments and then sends the text swirling down, down, down into the drainpipe that is the net. He has two lives, and he hopes to find his place in the world somewhere in between.

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