“He did it to teach you that people do not live by bread alone; rather, we live by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.”
~ Deuteronomy 8:3 ~
We live in a world crammed with endless information and blaring social media, to the point where the line between what is rumour and what is truth is consistently being blurred. So many flying words… news headlines, rumours, statements, comments, re-posts, likes, re-tweets, articles, quotes, quotes of quotes, buzz feeds on every subject imaginable… whether factual or completely irrelevant, the list is endless. We are the generation with instant access to extremes of information at the mere tap of an iPhone screen, from the moment we open our eyes, until they droop shut again at night.
In so many ways, this age of information and technology we are living in has given birth to crazy advantages that generations before us never imagined or experienced. We are notified daily of technological advances and upgrades. For instance – the option of connecting with someone on the other side of the planet is now simply a matter of pressing a button on a screen whilst enjoying the comfort of our living rooms! A convenience which – on one hand, has improved and enriched our lives in ways that past generations of people would not have been able to fathom. With the creation of programs like Skype and apps like Facetime, maintaining communication in relationships has never been easier than it is today. Yet on the other hand, this ‘quick-connection-convenience’ also seems to be generating new problems of its own. It seems like our natural desire to cultivate meaningful relationships with others is rapidly being contaminated with the ‘short cut’ that technology instantly provides. The ‘growing’ element to relationships is suddenly made redundant, and the results are becoming evident; We now have the option of sacrificing intimacy and depth for popularity. Can the work and investment it takes to grow a deep relationship really be fast-tracked? As soon as we turn on TV news or log onto our computer home pages, it becomes evident that there are just as many unfulfilled people today who are suffering from greater isolation, loneliness and disconnection than ever. While some areas of life have benefited greatly from instant convenience and unlimited information access, they have not come without great sacrifice in others.
We are stuffed with ‘knowledge’, and probably more knowledge than we are actually able to digest on a daily basis, should we choose to feed on it. Yet it would seem that for all this ‘fast-food’ information, we still find ourselves craving more. Real food, maybe? The smorgasbord of knowledge we are incessantly offered is not necessarily producing flourishing, abundant lives.
It is common today to come across a news article or report on your computer’s homepage one minute – whatever the topic – and before long find yourself reading a report in some other news feed completely dismissing that same “news” as false, or incorrect, or simply an ‘exaggeration’ that escalated to the verge of falsehood. How can we be sure of who’s telling the truth?
And what truths do we find ourselves seeking? I have discovered – and am constantly discovering – that I can usually find anything I’m truly desiring, deep down, to find, on the internet these days. I can justify anything I’m really determined to justify. But that doesn’t make me right, and it doesn’t make the source of information legitimate. What is truth, anyway?
This is a big question. And it rings with age-old echoes that have bounced off the walls of every era in our history books. Is it relevance – is it just a selective thing? Objective? Sub-jective? Or does real truth outlast the history books? Does it have authority throughout every generation and age? Would real truth change like it seems to do so fluidly today? Is it already present, or available and we’ve just missed it? Has it always been there to discover? Countless people have embarked upon a ‘search for truth’ on thousands of occasions. In some ways, that search defines humanity. One would think that our Information Age, with all it’s glorious knowledge, would at least be the era where that question is finally and completely answered. Or at least summarized and defined clearly. But so far it seems that more information is not narrowing down the options, or eliminating all the non-truths in the world. So far, we have succeeded in simply making a market of truth in self help manuals, recipes for successful living, How to be more beautiful, How to achieve lifelong youthfulness, ten tips for a better marriage, how to manage your time well, ten traits you need to succeed, top products you need for your 2015, etc. etc. Truth is advertised everywhere – until we know so much, we don’t quite know anything. The question is just as relevant now – maybe even more so – than ever before. What is it?
Because out of this shifting, rumor-injected realm of social media and internet-driven reality our generation is emerging. Stories change frequently, and it causes me to wonder – how is such an environment shaping or impacting our ideas of trust?
What should we believe, if we are to believe anything at all?
On some fronts people are growing more mistrustful and cynical – or even desensitized to – anything that is suggested to be truth because of this reality – with so much information on offer, no one is really sure what to believe anymore. So they close off to believing anything altogether. And then there are those of us who are probably pretty blase about the whole thing: “What does it matter whether the news is actually true or just a bunch of greatly-exaggerated, sensationalized stories? I’ll never know, so no use crying over spilled milk. And besides, it doesn’t really affect me anyway!”
Though we may not always acknowledge or realize it, the decisions we make do affect others – and they always will, for better or for worse. Have you ever benefited from someone else’s selfish decision? Or felt handicapped by another’s generosity and grace? Humanity is not naive to the fact that in this life we’ve been given, as exhilarating as the experiences of joy, love, beauty, relationship and success are, there are equally as many plans we nurture that don’t come to fruition; times and seasons when we are guaranteed to find ourselves the recipients of grief, loss, pain or injustice. Death alone is a stark reminder of that; no matter how successful, wealthy, beautiful or prestigious we become, with all of that going for any of us, death still has the final say. And whether we have come to terms with the reality of this fact or not, we all recognize it.
What is real, life-giving, everlasting Truth? Truth that saves and sustains, and does not simply inform? Is there more to life than simply what affects me and requires my commitment, day-to-day? The things I see in front of me? Do I need more than just ‘bread’ – success, survival and comfort to really and truly…