To Know Thyself in An Age of Information

We truly live in an exciting time.

Ever since the internet was launched, Google revolutionized search, users aggregated reference data (e.g. Wikipedia), and visionaries created their own content (e.g. Youtube), technology in our day and age has radically transformed the way people access, consume, and propagate information.

How this ability to access information at such ease and depth will shape the future remains to be seen, and as I said-it is very exciting.

Yet as I think about the deeper things of life, and reflect on some of the most significant learning I’ve done in the past several years, I argue that there is an area of learning that technology may never solve with ease and access: Understanding the depths of our own hearts. 

There is no technological replacement for one’s journey to understand oneself. We cannot ‘Google’ the fabric of our being. At my age, I realize now that there was no shortcut to understanding all the nuances of my being.

I’m not talking about surface-level conversations like “what I enjoy eating”, “my favorite movies” or “which Disney character am I most like?”.

I’m talking about answers to the questions of…

When do I feel most vulnerable?
Why do I struggle with this or that? What formative stories in my life contributed to those habits?
How did certain tragedies affect my development?

How did the way my parents raise me or my culture shape who I am?
Who am I and why did God make me?
What do I hate most?
What are my values?
And what drives every single one of my behaviors?

These are not questions relegated merely to therapists, counselors, or priests. For whether we know it or not, they form the foundation of behavior which under girds our human experience and entire society as a whole.

Who was that man who murdered 15 students in a school? Who was that druggie who has suffers from an life-crippling addiction? Who was that teenager who committed suicide in their dorm? Who was this beautiful young lady who spent thousands of dollars disfiguring her face hoping to make it more beautiful? Who was this pastor that committed adultery and lied about it?

Who are these people, and as this article is desperately trying to accomplish, I now ask you: who are you?

Those deep questions are like markings on the journey of our life which provide few clues as to their answers. The road is long, rough, and as I’ve seen, few are courageous to walk that road to discover their meaning in significant and life-altering ways.

In our information-riddled generation, it is proven that these are answers are not easily ascertainable. Rather it is far easier to opt for the manipulation of our public appearances as a substitute for our lack of self-awareness. We have opted for digital and social facades in place of real self reflection; and subsequently contributed to the real tragedy of our modern technologically-driven society: substituting plastic surgery for heart surgery of the soul. 

The deep questions surrounding the way our mind and hearts work remains to be a mystery and whose answers will allude the modern conveniences and powers of technology.

In my own life, the rudimentary answers to these questions and more are buried beneath thousands of journal entries, conversations, and reflections. I wish there was an app, site, or video to have shown me these things.

And as our generation tunnels fearlessly and ever-more-fiercely to provide content and information to every human being on our planet, I am reminded that technology does not and will never have jurisdiction nor access into the important things of our hearts, the place that may matter most.

The purpose in a man’s heart is like deep water, but a man of understanding will draw it out.
Proverbs 20:5.

Posted by Phillip Chan

Phil has been writing in the Black Box for 10 years. His passion is to grow in his love for Jesus to obey his purposes in our generation.

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