Sponge Worthy

I am a sponge. I thirst for knowledge. I thirst for information. At no point in my life will I assume that what I know is adequate. Knowledge evolves on a moment-by-moment basis. We are inches away from discoveries that will alter the world, that will alter our lives. I don’t know what these discoveries are, but as a species, we evolve constantly. As a member of this species, I think it is my responsibility to continue to soak up knowledge, to evolve.

There was a famous episode of Seinfeld where there was a shortage of contraceptive sponges on the market. In fact, they were off the market for many years, but, thankfully, have returned. In this famous episode, Elaine had to decide which men in her life, at the time, were “sponge worthy”. As a human sponge, soaking up knowledge, I have to decide what is sponge worthy because it is not possible to acquire all knowledge. I’ll admit, I am a little ambitious in my endeavors outside of work. There is just so much to learn, to know, to do, to experience, I am having sort of a hard time prioritizing them all. All of these things I want to learn, know, do and experience require soaking up some knowledge, some information. And so, I have about two hundred unread books on my Kindle on various topics of vital importance and I want to read them all NOW!

I have much that I consider “sponge worthy”. There is a lot out there that I consider unworthy. Like the food I put into my body, cleansers and products I use in my home, I am equally discerning about the information I’ll fuel my mind with, knowing that I cannot possibly soak it all up and wring out what I don’t find useful. When it comes to information, and information overload, all I can recommend is to know, and trust your source. I can’t tolerate quotes that begin with “they said …”. I don’t know who “they” are; I can’t even begin to discern their expertise, their trustworthiness as informants. I don’t know how “they” arrived at their conclusion. Who made the study? What information was gathered? How were the results tested, analyzed, what statistical methods were applied? Were the results audited independently? Who the fuck are “they”? Please don’t thrust a newspaper at me as “proof” against a belief of mine, and by all means, don’t read the newspaper article out loud to me. I will go ballistic! You’ll give me no choice but to ask how they arrived at their conclusion, who made the study? What information was gathered? How were the results tested, analyzed, what statistical methods were applied? Were the results audited independently? Who the fuck are “they”? One liner references to a study administered on a topic will never convince me of anything. Four or five books by respected authors citing relevant sources may. I’ll soak it all up and decide what to wring out. You can imagine how I must fare in front of the evening news on television! Let’s just say I don’t go there.

As a member of this quickly evolving world, again, I think it is vital that we soak up the information we consider sponge worthy. If not for the sake of knowledge and personal evolution, then for the sake of those around us, our friends, family and loved ones. We are never too old to learn, to make changes, to evolve. At what point in life does knowledge become irrelevant? The last split second before death. Up until that point, it still applies. I can hear an audible click, like a phone being hung up, so often, during conversations with people of all ages, but mostly my age, or older. I can almost see a little display on their forehead that says, “You have been muted for the comfort of the occupant”. They may as well clasp their hands over their ears and scream, “la la la la, I can’t hear you!” We have all become so closed-minded; we are unwilling to soak up any information that requires some application of thought. I am a Republican. Click. I voted for Obama. Click. I believe in abortion. Click. I support the second amendment. Click. Processed food is bad for you. Click. Our minds are not like a soda can, capable of holding only twelve ounces. Once filled, no more knowledge will fit. Really? Never can anyone, ever, say, “I know everything I need to know.” “No more knowledge necessary here, thank you.” Knowledge isn’t like Girl Scout cookies! You can’t turn it away because you don’t want any! We never reach an age where a new way to do something isn’t going to be beneficial. “I’ve made it this far on what I know”. Just making it just isn’t making it.

Admittedly, I can’t be swayed by a brief blurb on network television or in a newspaper, I believe with all my heart that we need to know both sides of every story, of every argument, before we can wring out the sponge. I studied crime and politics in college. Two separate fields of study, not one, though you have to wonder sometimes. In both these fields of study, it was impressed upon me to know all of the arguments, all of the supporting philosophies. I studied a lot of criminal and civil law, and I needed to be able to argue either side of the case. It is ingrained in me to learn and to know both sides of any argument, anything less than that is being uninformed, or worse yet, ill-informed. On a daily basis, with the barrage of popular media and it’s sensationalized delivery, where the reporters sound exactly like the guy advertising this weekend’s monster truck pull, it is nearly impossible to get both sides of any story. For this reason, if not for the assumed, panicked expression and monster truck announcer’s tone of voice, I don’t participate in popular news media. I am old enough to remember when a counter view was allowed to be expressed on television after the news or other similar programming. That’s when popular media was popular with me. That’s the last time the media was unbiased. Once the opportunity for a counter view was removed, popular media news became nothing more than propaganda. I’ll soak up current events in a number of places, contemplate both sides of the argument, and usually arrive at a pretty moderate conclusion. All by myself. Shut up monster truck announcer news guy, you have been muted for the comfort of the occupant. I’m going somewhere quiet, with my Kindle. You are so not sponge worthy.

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