Monday, August 22, 2011

How to survive in a world of information overload (contd)

Over a number of years it has become clear to me that the information/choice overload that has exploded with the internet has a negative impact on many black women. Many are now 'lost' in the range of choices they have or are trappend in the belief and promise of a better solution than the one that stands in front of them, if they hold off making a decision. The situation is akin to waiting for a better credit card rate than signing up to the one that seems reasonble, because you feel that there is about to be a price war with the credit card companies that will net you an even better deal if you hold out!

One of the reasons why black women put off making necessary desicions as they wait for something better etc is that there is a whole faction invested in black women staying put in their current situation so they immediately counter any change or movement towards change.

Today I came across a clear illustration of the above point. A man had written a blog post about how his mind had been changed by a book he had read. Essentially he was rethinking his 'left-leaning' position on a couple of things, anyway someone came unto the comment page and proceeded to counter each and every point raised by the original author. Now I am not going to say that the commetor was making invalid arguments however my immediate reaction was that this commentor was essentially 'pushing the blog author back into place'!

I know many black women who are put off change because someone (who more than likely is against change and improvement for black women), decided to come around a rich and interesting conversation that was about to lead to 'change' to punch holes in the ideas of squelch the change emerging and deflate the growing 'motivation' black women are begining to have to do something different.

It is however very important to understand that as a black woman if you have begun to engage in conversations and debate issues, it is likely to be because you want to move forward and what you are doing currently isnt working. This is very important because many black women loose sight of the fact that what brought them to the discussion table to start with, is a need for change, a need to try something different, to try a new plan or tactic because the old way isnt working. However if someone ends up taking the winds out of your sails then they are really your obstacle. Indeed my reaction to the counter argument and 'take down' of the first bloggers article by the second commetor in the above illustration was, 'How does this help the blogger to go forward?'

I hear someone say, 'Well he might have been moving to a wrong place etc etc'. However I want to point out that it is important to make some move if you are stuck and looking for a change in your circumstances.

Think about this very apt passge in the bible (2 Kings 7:3). Two lepers realize they have to make a choice because making a decision could result in the change of their fortunes while not making one meant staying stuck in their already bad situation:

“Why are we sitting here until we die? If we say, ‘We will enter the city,’ the famine is in the city, and we shall die there. And if we sit here, we die also. Now therefore, come, let us surrender to the army of the Syrians. If they keep us alive, we shall live; and if they kill us, we shall only die.”

Sometimes you are in a position where you have to grab at achance to change things for yourself even if nothing is guaranteed and there is also the probabilty that you wont change your circumstances.

Also another crucial point here is that in a world where there is too much choice actually you will discover that most of those choices approximate each other and often the most critical thing is that you made a decision promptly! Don't forget that another outcome of a world of surpluss choice is that you can and should retreat from your choice/decision, you are not tied to any decision for life! We see this with financial products, we see this with increasing divorce rates in fact all areas of life. I am not saying that decisions should be taken lightly, not at all but you cannot put off a decision indefintely, you have to jump in at some point (soon hopefully). If you make a mistake, dont punish yourself, be able to say, 'I am sorry, I was mistaken etc etc'.

The most important thing is to make a meaningful decision which you can work with or make something of by adding other elements.

This above point, was further illustrated to me by my cousins situation. She took a low paying job (she needed the money). Her sister didnt jump on the first job that came her way unlike my cousin, and eventually got a better paying job (one and half times more money). My cousin was at this low paying job for 10 years. But she compensated for this lowly job (without even being aware) by investing and saving and doing other bits and pieces (making something out of her particular circumstance). She now stands at a higher place financially than those who worked jobs twice her salary. As long as you know the limits of your descion and choice its possible to compensate for the shortfalls and less than ideal terms. Think about a man/woman who works a low paying job to raise funds for a personal business or to put kids through school!


Should my choice always be ethical and pass the ism scrutiny?
Many bw are under a strange pressure to make sure every action, every behaviour, every thought is one that is entirely ethical and fair and progressive. A lot of them display this tension to make their lives very moral by explaining why they made a specific choice rather than another (justify their decisions). Others engage in constant debating as if really they are trying to convince themselves more than others that there is no nasty underlying/wrong reason under behind any decision or choice.

In truth this is all tedious. You do not have to be politically correct in your every move or utterance or decision. You do not need to strive to make your every decision one that aligns with social morality and you do not need to strive to refrain from acting from 'isms'. Your decision has to have personal meaning to you thats all, the only other limit is that you do not hurt anyone else by your actions.

A friend of mine went to great lengths to explain why her decision to exclude Indian men wasn’t ‘racist’. It was really excruciating watching her go through all sorts of hoops and justification arguments to say, ’Hey I am not racist you know!’

I said to her, 'Who cares if you are racist, trust me, you are not hurting or denying any Chinese man anything by excluding him from your dating catchment'.

The challenge
Many black women are at a stand still because there are just so many options and theories out there on what they should do or not do. Many feel they have to hear all the arguments before they make any choice however the arguments nnever end and there is a new one to listen to each day!

The challenge of today’s society is how to make choices from the almost limitless information we are bombarded with in today’s world. How to pick that which is the best for us from the menu that is 20 feet long. We are surrounded by paths but we cannot see beyond 20 meters of any of them, and thus we become afraid to take one path because, ‘Who knows where it will lead?’

The trick however is to decide for an option and then make the best out of it by employing all your skills, talents and abilities and adding your unique value to that choice to expand it and make it the best it can be and we all can make an amazing product out of the basic choice combined with our unique talents and gifts!

Consider this analogy. Say you are a farmer and have to plant your crops on one of the choices of land that is set before you. You are not given an opportunity to do a soil test analysis but must choose by just looking at the piece of ground for 30 seconds. What you end up with is soil that is partly fertile. What do you do? Do you throw up your hands and say, ‘I am doomed,’ ‘I am always unlucky’. Do you down tools and stand and watch those who have chosen a better piece of land that has the capacity to grow ten times more crops than your piece of land?

Actually what you do is to employ your intelligence and talents to the problem that confronts you. You buy fertilizer, try different cropping techniques. You do not resent your fate because that shuts off the creative thinking ability. Instead welcome it and see it as an opportunity to exercise your mental abilities.

The likely result to these kinds of scenarios is that you end up not just with a crop yield approximate to that of the person with the more fertile field, but also, you end up with a cropping ‘technique’ that you developed through sweat and tears! You can now patent it!

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Zabeth said...

A good question to think about right now would be how do you cut out some of the noise?

Brenda55 said...

Limit the news sources you visit. Most of the stuff out there is just a repeat of the same story over and over again and not really germane to your day to day life. Its just noise.

Most of what passes as news are press releases anyway since news organizations do not do anything close to investigating an issue these days.

I also don't spend a lot of time reading or listening to what passes for analysis these days either. Most of it is speculation and most of it is wrong. You see that when you wait a few days and find that the catastrophe that was predicted never happened. By then the person making that prediction has moved on to something else.

Anonymous said...

I really liked the article, and the very cool blog

Anonymous said...

Hi, Halima,
Long time lurker, first time commenting. I am so sick and tired of being sick and tired. I don't want to belabor this with presenting my credentials (yes, like all the rest of us I'm highly educated with multiple degrees and property). I have not, however, made sound decisions when it has come to my personal life. Yes . . . a series of bad relationships. Most recently, my pastor (female by the way) suggested that I marry someone (yes a DBR black man) with whom I have a child. Long story, but he asked me to marry him before the child came and I refused. To make a long story short, I've decided to no longer take advice from her, amongst other things because I realize that she doesn't have my best interest at heart. In addition, to prevent information overload and gain more clarity in my decision making, I've hired a trainer and workout everyday; I will begin fasting and will start turning off the TV. I can't read all of the BWE blogs because for me, its just too much information to feasibly process it all. I have to focus on one which will be yours.

Anonymous said...

There is a saying "Life is chaos" but you can control this chaos by learning how to channel information that is going to help make your life better, follow your instinct and question the reason behind someone/persons agenda. I have learn people will say and do anything in order to make sure you donot venture into a postive light. You must be firm in your belief,consider watching a honey bee search for nectar. This honey bee is patience and travel a great distance. I find this sooth and calm my thoughts.

Anonymous said...

I'd suggest a no media diet. No TV or radio or newspapers or magazines. People think I'm crazy when I say I don't watch TV. Only read books that uplift and inspire you. Only look at images that uplift and inspire you. Surround yourself with beauty and serenity. Fill your house and walls with images, art, items that lift your soul and feed your mind with love and positivity.

ak said...

I hope I don't sound like I'm derailing the comments on this post but I hope that those of you who are commenting or reading who live in NYC, New Jersey, North Carolina, Virginia, Florida, etc. are alright. I have lived in Florida before and in NYC, and I hope you are all able to take care of yourselves and your families, and be safe during Irene coming.

Anonymous said...

@ anon 8.45,

I understand that u may not have made the best decisions so far but it is good that u have realised that and are choosing to make better ones. However, concerning your pastor, her advising you to marry the father of your child may not necessarily be her not having your best interests at heart. Even though the guy is willing to marry and I presume, take care of his child/ responsibilities, he may still be a dbr as u have said and ur pastor may also view him as such. However, do u know the opinion that your pastor has of you? If she has watched you constatntly making bad decisions in your life, it could be that she doesn't hold you in high regard and views you in just the same way as you and possibly her may view the father of your child. I seriously doubt that a pastor who genuinely cares for her church members would advise a quality woman to marry a man with dbr qualities. In your church, the young ladies that you would view as quality women, what kind of advice do they get from your pastor? Is it the same? If you have constantly been making these bad decisions, I can almost assure you that the sensible people around you probably do not hold you in high regard either. The fact that u have now decided to change will not make others to immediately regard you as a quality woman. It will take time. The same way that if the dbr guy decided to turn a new leaf, would you begin to have respect for him overnight? It will take time as well and you will need to see the fruits of that change first.

So basically, what I'm saying is that I hope that you keep on with the new path with positive choices you are on but the fact that your pastor gave you advice that u didn't think was the best may not necessarily mean she doesn't have your best interest at heart (although it may) but it could mean she may be advising you what she believes to be best in your situation, or views you and your child's father to be on the same level, or maybe she just doesn't have much respect for you having witnessed a lot of the bad choices u say u have made.


Margery said...

@ Foxy Cleopatra
Thanks for sharing your perspective on this issue. First, I did not initiate a discussion with my pastor on this issue. She contacted me with a desire to discuss my personal life. After I advised her that marrying my child's father was not ann option for me and that we are not equally yoked, it is my position she should have left this alone. She knew little about my personal experiences whether good or bad.

I think for me, the larger issue is people (family, friends, employers)imposing their desires on me and how to respond to such behavior in a way that I don't damage these relationships. Essentially, I don't want to respond negatively and "go-off" over something that I know will be a constant that I will have to deal with in this life.

Anonymous said...

@ Margery,

Thanx for replying. Of course I don't know you personally so I can only go by your comment. it is unfortunate that we cannot choose our biological families but even so never let anyone, irrespective of who they are to convince or force you to do something you know is not right for you. I suggest you look at your friends, family members and determine which ones actually add value and have a positive effect in your life and those that do the opposite. If someone who is supposed to care about you is constantly giving you bad advice, it would be wise to ask yourself whether this person should really remain in your life. Unfortunately, sometimes these may be family members that we love ourselves. Surround yourself with like minded people. Also if there is someone in your life who you admire and respect, why not see if you can be mentored by them? A lot of times when you are on a different and elevated path in life, and feel you are being discouraged by people around, having a mentor to advice (especially if they may have gone through similar) can be a big help.

I wish you, your child and your future all the best.


Anonymous said...

I have a friend who has been dating a Chinese man 10 yrs her junior. They have been together for many years and he has supported her and her child (from a previous marriage) all the way. He loves her and everyone can see it. Guess what has stopped her from marrying him? He is not black. SMH. She met an old back flame the other day and started fantasising about how things could be great between them (even though this man has very little to show for his 50 yrs). I had to metaphorically give her a good slap. I think it shook her a little and I'm hoping she will at least begin to see sense.

Thanks Halima for this post. I needed it.