I have been meaning to write about the topic of trying to ‘keep up’ with all that goes on in the world of interest and concern to me for quite some time. As I noted in one of the first posts on this blog, finding the balance of what to read while leaving time for all the other demands and desires in life is a constant tightrope act. However, what I didn’t cover in that post is why one would want to spend so much time, on a daily basis, immersed in the thoughts of others, and what one stands to gain by such a practice.
When I started using RSS feeds, I was being bombarded by hundreds of headlines that were of little interest to me. Now, however, I have honed what is being pushed my way to the point where, on a daily basis there are many articles that are worth my time and full attention — something I try to highlight by posting the cream of the crop weekly right here. To answer why I do it and what I think I gain actually requires backing up all the way to what I think constitutes living a meaningful life. Since this is only the means to the end of talking about the value in reading copiously, I will just mention that what I mean is simply that, to live a meaningful life for me means to be regularly (if not constantly) striving to better understand just what such a life would look like. In other words, to be living a meaningful life means being immersed in the search for a greater understanding of the meaning life gives both to humans generally and to me specifically. For me, this includes building numberless networks in my own head between the various thoughts, reflections, and arguments of those whose ideas I respect through the medium that speaks to me most: text. I think that this practice, more than most that I engage in regularly, allows me to constantly critique my own beliefs and come to an ever sharper understanding of what it is to be a human living on this planet at this time.
However, there is a great risk associated with this activity if control is not maintained. Following ‘feeds’ can literally feed a feeling that I am keeping on top of what is important in the world, which can easily lead to the idea that I am doing something. This is dangerous because, while there are serious benefits to immersing myself in the news of special interest to me, as I just mentioned, it is still a passive activity, one that should not occupy too central a place in anyone’s life. Instead, the focus should ultimately be on taking the knowledge gleaned from such education and doing whatever one can to better those around them. However, I have only come to this realization through my reading in this methodical fashion, and so I remain a steadfast believer in the perpetual need for both educating oneself and acting in the world on the basis of the convictions one acquires through that education.