The Information Age and the Persona

I have previously mentioned “the information age” and stressed that we are actually living in an information “avalanche”, which causes many people to pay attention mostly to superficial data and do very little actual background reading, so that the idea that people are better informed is an unsubstantiated assumption, and, as an uninformed population is at risk of becoming dogmatic, this is a concern.

Today, I want to focus on the positive aspects of “the information age”.

Having grown up in a time when there was no internet, no video, CD or DVD, no home computers, no eBooks and no mobile phones – yes, cars existed already and the dinosaurs were extinct – I am still amazed by the amount of interaction that has become available to people.

If I want to know something, I simply “google” it. When looking to buy a house, I can do all the price evaluations from my home computer and be completely informed. As a writer, I can have my books made into electronic files and send them all over the world. And as easy as it has become for me to publish my books, so other people have also found opportunities they would have before not had. Musicians record their work and put it on YouTube; photographers can share their work on Pinterest, as can decorators and designers. Other people create their own online magazines and become editors or they have their own radio show and do interviews. Anybody with a blog is in effect writing weekly or monthly columns.

And they all help each other. There are websites available, like sourcebottle.com and pitchrate.com which bring writers (journalists or bloggers) in contact with “experts”. To sign up as an expert is free and anybody who has some special interest or knowledge can be classed as an expert at something and thus find requests to respond to. To be asked for an article or an interview validates people; it makes them feel worthwhile and there is nothing more important to a person’s self-esteem than feeling worthwhile.

And this is more than obvious with today’s older generation.

Not too long ago, old people who went to a nursing home were considered no longer useful to society – whether it was said like that or not. Very often they lost hope or the “joie de vivre” and this had an impact of their lifespan. Today they are finding it back, their sense of being worth something, and it is thanks to the internet. It was jokingly told me – even if it is really rather sad – that this is because their children and grandchildren, who can not be bothered visiting very often, give them laptops as a present.

But it works; suddenly the old man who was thinking he was useless, is giving advice over the web to young people who lack his experience. Nobody asks for his age; nobody thinks they should talk slow because he is a bit deaf or explain things in a “poor-you” voice because he walks with a stick. Suddenly he is an expert and gets told he is such a great help. Suddenly he is free to choose what name other people use when addressing him instead of young doctors and nurses using his first name unasked.

The same applies for other people who are isolated – the farmer who doesn’t get to town very often, the mother who is cooped up at home with little kids all day  or the child who has trouble finding friends at school and who worries about not being pretty, smart or athletic enough to be liked by the in-group. They now find real friends on the web.

I say “real friends”, because even though many of them are physically distant, those that do later meet up find they already have a strong bond; looks are hardly noticed because they already connected on a deeper level – they found their soul mate.

This deeper level, of course, is their personality type; the only thing that is as deeply rooted in a person as their gender. It has been said that if all temporal, spatial, cultural and social boundaries were removed, the same people would still find each other.

That is because the persona – Jung’s word for the social mask people show the outside world – is removed. All the prejudices that go with age, gender, race and social status or culture (often associated with a person’s real name) are of no importance. People meet on the basis of interest (fandoms, Facebook and LinkedIn groups). – All that is important in these places is what people actually say; how they present their thoughts or beliefs and what they know. Different types of people are interested in different topics – yet there is an overlap which makes for the different opinions within groups. The good thing about social networks is that they are based on equality and not on arbitrary standards.

And not only that, but thanks to the opportunity to write under a penname do people often express what they would not otherwise. Especially fan fiction websites are a fascinating place to study psychology. The topics of the stories give a lot away about what is important to people – things they would never reveal to a psychologist in a survey and probably not even to their best friend.

Other aspects of the information age are just as exciting, like scientists reaching out to the general public (especially in astronomy) and finding that much more information comes available if any person is allowed to participate on a voluntary basis. The amount of effort people are willing to put into work (vocations) that were previously considered specialist jobs, is unlimited if they feel they get a return for it – not in pay but in acknowledgment, because they are following their natural talent. Could a society be founded upon this?

I think it is not only possible, but it is the only possible way forward. Yes, we live in an information age: to the average individual there is much more information available than ever before – that is access to the collective human databank – and more than ever that requires us to be alert to dogma. In fact, the cornerstones of our society (politics, justice and education) need to adapt to the new focus.

It is simply not good enough for schools, for example, to teach the same topics they always have with as the only difference that kids get to use the computer to do the work; instead of focusing on the contents of subjects (like geography or science), the facts to which every child today has instant access, schools should help them deal with information itself; focus on how to do research, how to communicate their ideas, how to prioritize and how to summarize, since those are the skills kids are going to need. Thus, schools need to shift their approach from contents to method.

The same applies to the political system; it is useless to have elected politicians chosen by promises (content) made in public places or on TV and which speech writers have written for them. Instead they should prove that they are natural leaders by engaging in serious discussions with any person who wants to raise an issue; prove they have insight and are capable of answering questions, prioritizing, making decisions for reasons of necessity (not votes) and dealing with controversy – skills.

And so, distributive justice should be adapted to the new era. First of all, we need to realize that, despite calling ours “the information age”, information has always been at the centre of existence. Information is not something new that we have invented and information is not a possession that one individual (or culture) can hold private. We are so intricately linked to information (as individuals and as a group) that to treat it like a possession is like treating existence itself as a possession; it is like a flea on the top of your head claiming that it owns you.

As discussed above, information is being shared more and more freely and that is a good thing as it helps all of humanity toward progress. As I repeatedly mention in my The Music of Life series and which is explained in my previous post “A Brief Overview of Typology”, information drives the personality type differences. They are not a choice people have or something they learn; they are a reflection of the aspects of information, and without these differences complementing each other – as in each person being tuned into a slightly different aspect – humanity itself could have not evolved to the level of civilization it is at now.

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3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. PJ Royal
    Jan 12, 2013 @ 03:16:37

    Thoroughly enjoyed your post – thanks so much for you sharing. Most insightful!

    Reply

  2. mikerana
    Mar 25, 2013 @ 22:22:51

    Persona is now the Blackberry … It has affected the parent-child relationship

    Reply

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