If You’ve Nothing Useful to Add…

I often grow weary of too many voices with too little new or useful information to add to a discussion. One of the great things about the rise of the blog is the ability to almost effortlessly enter into a conversation with countless others. Look hard enough and it’s assured that you will find a discussion going on somewhere about just about any topic. In fact, Google makes this so much easier with their powerful search engine – enter any criteria you wish, and within seconds you have tons of valuable results, even if your original search criteria were only loosely related to the topic of interest. ((Google seems to do a pretty good job of sorting out the chaff and leaving you with results that are actually pretty close to what you were looking for.))

The downside to all this is that you also get to hear many of the same arguments – over and over and over – from many different voices. ((Sometimes I do wonder just how many of these voices are actually listening to one another.)) Ecclesiastes states, quite correctly, that there is nothing new under the sun. In this case, that means that there are no new arguments for any subject that can be discussed. The issues are still the same today as they were yesterday, thus the arguments, from all sides, are still the same today as they were yesterday. But people do still have to learn things for themselves, and so all these discussions must take place over and over again until we feel like we are beating a dead horse (or possibly a whole herd of dead horses).

I think what ends up happening to avid bloggers like myself is a case of overexposure – I become immersed in the realm of all things blog, and even though I cannot hope to take in every single blog out there, I do interact with a large enough sample that trends, ideologies, and schools of thought begin to become readily apparent. I find, then, that there really are relatively few viewpoints out there. Even though every single individual may have a slightly unique factoid or viewpoint to add to the overall conversation, the broad worldview that is projected still fits rather nicely beneath one or another particular banner of philosophy.

As such it also becomes quite evident that there aren’t as many original thinkers out there as one might think. So many of the voices end up blending together because they sound so much alike. Instead of a cacophany of sound, you end up with a single, albeit slightly muzzy, voice espousing this viewpoint and another single, muzzy voice espousing that viewpoint. ((The muzziness originates from all those subtly different facts and viewpoints.)) After a while it becomes boring to listen to, like the drone of a motor lulling you toward drowsiness. It’s there, and you hear it, but you begin to not care as much, and it gets pushed to the background as being unimportant.

Unfortunately, the fact of the matter is that many of these conversations _are_ important. The dialogue is necessary for people to grow in their philosophies, to hone their critical thinking skills. ((Sadly, so few people actually engage their brains to think through their worldviews that one wonders if these discussions ever actually do any good.)) After all, how can one determine if they are in error unless they talk about their beliefs with others and sift them through a pool of relevant information? Of course the task of determining what is both relevant and useful is no small chore, hence the requirement of critical thinking skills, but it is, I believe, a worthwhile pursuit. ((Fortunately, the Word of God does provide a solid, firm foundation for stable, unchanging truth that may serve as an ample and adequate starting point for the search for truth.))

Many times I refrain from adding my voice to a discussion. Often it is because I lack the appropriate level of knowledge to be able to discuss intelligently. But perhaps just as frequently it is because I already hear all the voices out there (or at least enough to _feel_ I’m hearing all the voices) and determine that adding my own voice to the discussion will add nothing new or useful, that mine will just be one more level of muzziness to the cacophany of sound already present in the room. Of course, I _am_ just humble enough to think that I can learn from others (hence, I read) and just _arrogant_ enough to think that I might actually have something new to add. Hence, I continue to write as I feel led with the hopes that, though I may add no new information to the conversation, perhaps I will not-add it in such a way that someone will see truth from a fresh perspective and learn something they did not know before and might otherwise not have learned. That is my hope, that is my prayer, that is my dream.

Have anything to add to the conversation?