Sunday, October 28, 2012

What is useful knowledge?


From the strictest sense, the only real useful knowledge is that which can prolong my life and protect my family. In the 21st century, that includes:
  • Job skills (for economic reasons, and the ability to provide food,  shelter and gummi bears)
  • Budgeting skills (to safeguard the items above)
  • Healthy lifestyle (avoiding drugs, smoking, too many KFC Double Downs)
  • Safety (locking doors, not letting a chimp drive my car, not hanging out in DC's NE side after 8 p.m.)
  • Emotional well-being (to maintain my relationship and my own happiness, which maintains all of the above)
From a less black-and-white perspective, what is useful is more difficult to decide. As a news junkie, former journalist and obsessive reader, my take on knowledge can be summed up as this: more is better. The more you know, the more you can make informed decisions, talk to people about things that matter to them, and understand the world around you. But there's another side to knowledge - whether it has a practical application or not.
I've been following the 2012 election with great interest, and through multiple news sources, throughout every day. I want to know the polls, the newest development, how weather will affect early voting, etc. But what is that knowledge really getting me? I already know who I am voting for, and since I'm not campaigning or trying to influence anyone, the knowledge is basically useless. It helps me talk to others about it, but all it generally does is increase anxiety, uncertainty about the outcome, and puts me on a roller coaster with no payoff. After election day, the results in my life would be the same whether I had spent all those hours following the news or not.

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