The Beginning of Information Overload

In the middle of the 19th Century, the human race lost it. They lost their minds, and never got them back. Other forces took control.

People can lose their minds for many reasons – and one of those reasons is not hard to understand – they can no longer understand their world – so they just give up. This can be caused by information overload – if there are too many sensory inputs for their minds to process and understand.

The human mind is an amazing development – the final result of millions of years of evolution. It has made the human species the dominant life form. The rest of the world now serves it. But (unbeknownst to itself) it has made a world it can no longer comprehend.

How did this happen?

It began with the invention of Electricity. Which, with the Telegraph, enabled the transmission of information over long distances instantly. Telegraph poles sprang up between all urban centers. And soon spanned the oceans. Newspapers were full of the news from everywhere (including the financial news) – and people could not get enough of them. This was making new kinds of wealth possible – based on the spread of information. Does this sound familiar?

But the Photograph was also invented about the same time. And soon became another obsession – as it was speedily improved with the invention of film negatives. Now one image could reproduced many times! But this improvement was surpassed when photographs could be digitized – turned into a sequence of black and white dots that could be send over the telegraph!

People demanded that their newspapers include a photograph of some distant event. We were becoming information addicts.

Electricity overcame space and time! An accomplishment the human mind could not fully grasp. How could it? It was created for the Stone Age, that it had no trouble comprehending – but this technology was completely beyond it. And it brought in with it, a host of unexpected side-effects – that we still cannot understand.

The world was now controlled by many forces – that affected each other. It had always been this way – but now some of these forces were new, and poorly understood. We could have understood them – if we had stopped and given them some careful thought – but we rushed on instead.

The nice, orderly 19th Century world (with its Classical Music) – collapsed. To be followed by WWI, the Depression, and WWII.

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