When it comes to information, humanity has been playing a vast game of Tetris for thousands of years. New blocks of information are constantly being formed as we acquire new knowledge. As we encounter them, our objective is to rotate and place these informational blocks into our experience.
This was easier for our ancestors. The blocks were falling slowly from the sky. There was time to attend to each one, make a decision, and move on.
But those were the early rounds. As any child of the 80s knows, the game of Tetris rapidly escalates. The blocks fall faster with each round until it’s hard to keep up.
In the 21st century, information is coming toward us at lightning speed. We have less time to assess, order, and fit things together neatly. We live daily with our failure to join up our thinking. We have gaps in our knowledge and a growing number of things that conflict with what we thought we knew.
Today, in the game of information-Tetris, we are in the lightning rounds. We can feel overwhelmed if we are conscious of losing control. We feel distracted when we are not, lacking focus and intention. Time slips away. The music of the game is playing faster and faster and we sense that something has got to give.
Information overload and the toll it takes on our attention has become a cultural conversation. Self-help books and mindfulness courses proliferate as we try to get a grip on our productivity, our ability to process information, and our increasingly fragile memories.
Often overlooked, however, is our informational environment’s profound effect on our capacity to love. Because love is intimately connected with attention, our habits of distraction shape the way in which we love or fail to love the people and places in our care.
This connection might sound tenuous to you at first blush. After all, in the Western tradition, we have tended to see ourselves as thinking animals, the objects of our affection determined solely by our decision making. The truth of the matter is that our desires tell us more about who we really are and what we truly love.
For instance, I am fully aware of what healthy eating looks like. I know in my mind that it does not involve late night visits to the refrigerator. If my thoughts and beliefs were the decisive factor, I would never find myself spoon in hand, eating ice cream straight from the tub at 11:22 pm. But my ritual of late-night snacking has formed me into a lover of ice cream. I love the pleasure of ice cream more than I love the goal of health.
Our love is the fuel of our action, drawing us toward the desires of our heart. We are driven more by desire than by knowledge. We bear in our hearts a vision of what we want and are propelled toward that vision, often in spite of firmly held convictions. “You are what you love,” writes philosopher James K. A. Smith, “but you might not love what you think.”
Love is a fathomless mystery, but one possible definition of love is this: Love is committed attending.
Read more here: https://www.convivium.ca/voices/love-in-an-age-of-information-overload