With a barrage of holiday parties, I found myself engaged in a myriad of conversations on all the topics of the day. Inevitably, everyone had an opinion on most all the topics we were discussing and most people punctuated their thoughts with, "I read about that on the internet."
This caused me to think about how powerful the internet is in passing information. Yet given our fast paced world, this information is often framed in short, and brief snipit's. Most of the things we frame opinions on are usually quick and hasty frameworks driven by authors, or sources we favor.
Although this kind of information is helpful, it hardly is enough to cover all the issues related to a complex topic. Take the racial struggles happening around our country. When someone sees a video on the internet related to Furguson, or NYC, this is clearly not enough information to frame a conclusion in answering the deeper questions of "why" or quilt/innocence, or even the implications of racism.
These questions are invitations to look further into issues before framing conclusions. This deeper exploration, however, require discipline. That is, taking the time, energy, and openness necessary in researching an issue to really understand it. Yet discipline is a hard concept to subscribe to, given the pace and distractions of the world.
I remember the questions I had in college, when advisors told me of all the classes I needed to take to qualify for a degree. I wondered, often aloud, as to why I needed to take courses that seemingly had no relevance to what I was interested in. Often the answer to these questions, understood years later, was wrapped in the discipline necessary to connect issues essential to understanding the things I really wanted to master.
So, the next time you are confronted with a complex issue, ask yourself what you really know about the topic. If you are intrigued, take the time and energy - the discipline - to try to understand.