In Chapter 2 of his new book The Next Story, Tim Challies writes about the changes wrought by the invention of the telegraph:
Gone was the idea of news as “functional information”. Very quickly arose the notion of news as entertainment. Instead of newspapers filled with in-depth analyses of local affairs, consumers demanded papers filled with interesting but irrelevant snippets of information, often from faraway places. “News from nowhere, addressed to no one in particular” gave people much to talk about but little to act on. It entertained and outraged, but demanded no response, no action. Neil Postman writes about the great loop of impotence this created: “The news elicits from you a variety of opinions about which you can do nothing except offer them as more news, about which you can do nothing.” People knew lots of facts, but had intimate knowledge of very little. Their knowledge about the world far surpassed their knowledge of the world.
Let us, as Christians, diligently guard against becoming mere know-it-all know-nothings. In both worldly and spiritual affairs, our goal should not be to gather vast amounts of trivia: an entire reservoir of trivial information is not worth an ounce of real, genuine thought – the kind of thought that produces action.
Shallow thinking will never take you anyplace worth going.
In the words of John Piper, “You don’t need to know a lot of things for your life to make a difference; but you do need to know a few great things, and you need to live for them with all your might.”
(This topic reminds me of yet another quote, this time from Ray Bradbury’s sci-fi classic Fahrenheit 451. Read it here.)