Living in the Age of TMI

We’ve all been there: engrossed in conversation with someone when the person that we’re talking with begins to volunteer information of an extremely personal nature.  The setting of the person’s story, more times than not, is a bathroom . . . or a bedroom . . . and if you’re lucky, you can nip the conversational, pre-flowered, bud by inserting the three letters, “TMI.”   TMI, of course, is an abbreviation for “too much information.”  TMI is usually designated for those moments when someone is broaching an extremely private matter and to continue on would merit social embarrassment.  Inherent in this response is the idea, “Hey, some things are best left unsaid – keep that to yourself.”

What constitutes TMI is quite a complex discussion.  TMI in one social setting, is far from out-of-bounds in another.  You may fart freely while among one social group, while squeezing tightly to avoid the embarrassment in another setting.  You may speak freely of your sexual escapades with one or two friends, but that social circle is pretty small for most of us.  Finding a level of appropriateness and comfort for everyone is going to be nearly impossible.  What one groups finds to be appallingly rude, another is going to find prudishly uptight.

While I don’t intend to get off on a tangent of social graces here, the concept of TMI is something that is becoming more and more a point of conversation.  The dual influences of the Youtube generation who feels comfortable with all aspects of their lives broadcast publicly along with the Google/Wikipedia reality where we now have all the information that’s ever been available in our phones in our pockets . . . all the sudden we live in the age of TMI.

I really don’t care what your status update is on Facebook, or your latest tweet is, and I’m guessing you don’t care about mine either.  And yet we read them.  We interact with them.  Twitter has now allowed us to update and broadcast what we are doing just about every second of our lives.  I can’t keep up with my own life, not to mention my wife and kids . . . and then throw in the how-ever-hundreds-other of Facebook friends, and Twitter followers, and there’s just TMI.

I love my Google content reader – it’s been one way I’ve been able to help sift through the vast amount of information that comes my way in a day.  As I come across neat blogs and interesting people, I add them to my reader . . . until, once again, I have TMI.  This influx of information . . . this overload of information . . . will have drastic impact on the kind of people we become twenty and thirty years from now.  Off the heels of the scientific age when we wanted to learn all that we could – our learning was insatiable . . . and now we realize that we can never learn everything.  No matter how small our focus might be, it’s becoming harder and harder to “master” everything.  The reaction to this in our society will be compelling to watch.  A few things I wouldn’t be surprised to see happen:

* An oversexualized/over-exposed generation leads the way to a return toward modesty.  When you’ve already seen all that there is to see, sometimes the sexiest, most attractive thing to do is to cover is all back up.

* Colleges are going to have a harder and harder time maintaining that their accreditation standards mean anything.

* Discernment will be the spiritual discipline of the next age.

* Wisdom will find a new-found appreciation and will be valued over knowledge.

* We will continue to invent, create, and revolutionize the world as each generation becomes smarter and smarter and more adept and creative with the abundance of knowledge they have at their finger tips.

* The world will constantly fight the Babel-ian impulse to build towers and “make their name great.”  [If this reference makes no sense to you, go back and read the account of the tower of Babel in Genesis 11 and see if that doesn’t sound like a timely story for the world that we know.]

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