“…or we may witness shameless intrusion on the privacy of well-known people under the slogan: ‘Everyone is entitled to know everything.’ But this is a false slogan of a false era; far greater in value is the forfeited right of people not to know, not to have their divine souls stuffed with gossip, nonsense, vain talk. A person who works and leads a meaningful life has no need for this excessive and burdening flow of information.” – Alexandr Solzhinetsyn
As the new year approaches, I find myself reflecting on this particular passage from “A World Split Apart,” Solzhinetsyn’s address to Harvard, which once heard is not easily forgotten.
Through the media, we have become inebriated on information. We know what celebrities and politicians ate for breakfast, and argue about which political leader golfed more. We buy into sensationalism, gossip, muse over which celebrities got botox, and who cheated on who. Before we know it, we start to embrace idle chatter and curious musings. In doing so, we tell ourselves this is a good way to satiate our desire to be “au courant” or “in the know.”
Yet, are we really “in the know”?
We have become so clogged up on “news” and information. Turn on your TV, open up your social media apps, look at the “discover” sections on Instagram or Snapchat, and then ask yourself, “what is it all for?”
Are we really learning, or is this means of stuffing ourselves, a sort of information gluttony, actually barring our vision and clouding our mind? The things that we consume daily impact who we are, how we think, and how we live.
How many people talk about heightened anxiety and depression, or find that their prized alone time is dictated by an overwhelming interior dialogue? Are our sources of information cultivating our lives and bringing us closer to God, or are we corrupting our minds and dismantling our interior peace?
Sadly, our world is drunk on the shallow, and that comes at the cost of our spiritual lives. The more we fill our minds with this vain “flow of information” the less ability we have to discern, think critically, and live meaningfully.
Perhaps one of the most liberated truths you can discover is that you do not need to know everything. Some things, praise God, are not your business. And you can hold onto that truth and cherish it.
As we march forth into 2022, it is time to ask ourselves:
Do we engage in meaningful discourse or exchange self-consumed tidbits, idle news, and gossip?
Do we cultivate our minds through thoughtful discussions and beautiful writings? Or do we abuse our minds by overstuffing them with chatter and chaos?
When we protect our right not to know the vapid and idle, we safeguard what is true and meaningful. We strengthen our ability to discern and seek what is truly good and lasting because the muck has been cleared out of our lives.
While New Year resolutions are fun, this year try doing a spiritual decluttering. Evaluate the things you spend time on and consume by positing the question: What is this in light of eternity?
Am I spending too much time on social media? Are there any apps that are stunting my spiritual growth instead of encouraging it?
If so, maybe it’s time to delete those things.
Maybe it’s time to turn off the TV shows, the unending news, and the chaos, and instead replace those loud distractions with good literature, adoration, the rosary, and meaningful friendships.
Just because the world is drunk on noise does not mean you need to be pulled into the calamity. Make 2022 the year you embrace the peace of Christ, not the clamor of the world.