From Darkness to Light – In the Information Age

by Dr Wu Shangyuan


Photo by Maxim Ilyahov on Unsplash


In this day and age, movement away from darkness into light takes on a brand new meaning. We are surrounded by technology and an unprecedented amount of information in circulation. News and commentaries on a myriad of topics are available at our fingertips; datasets are made available to us that uncover hidden truths and hold power to account. There is much knowledge to be had, and if we were kept in the dark before, we are now able to exercise our own agency to seek out the light, the truth. 

Yet, people have responded in different ways to these newfound abilities to become awakened. Some have taken the bull by the horns and armed with their laptops and smartphones, have conducted their own investigations to get at the truth. And then, not beholden to any big corporation or government, they have used their own social media accounts to offer their opinions, voice their dissent, and tell their stories.     

There are others that have chosen to run the other way. Because of the sheer amount of information they now have access to, they fear this bombardment and wish only to escape the information overload – what scholars and observers have termed as “news avoidance”. When encountering bad news, they choose to switch their devices off because it dampens their mood and ruins their day. The Covid-19 pandemic and daily updates on infection numbers are a case in point. Knowing the full extent of this health crisis, in these people’s minds, would only harm their own well-being, rather than allow them to take steps to become more protected. 

And yet others have adopted a coping mechanism in view of this influx of information – they form “filter bubbles”, where they selectively expose themselves to information that aligns with their pre-existing attitudes and beliefs, and surround themselves with others who feel the same. In this way, their attitudes will always be reinforced, placing them securely in their comfort zones. Even if the news reports they read contain untruths, it does not matter. Nothing needs to ever rock the boat they are on.  

The question then is – to what extent do we want to keep ourselves in the dark? Will we gain more by stepping into the light? 

One thing is clear. The information is out there and available for us to get at. It might require us to synthesize this information from various sources, sieve out the news that might be false or misleading, and make sense of everything that we have gathered – but it is out there. And the age-old adage remains true – knowledge is power. Knowing more, becoming awakened to more issues and perspectives, will always put us in a better stead than knowing less. But it will have to be a conscious choice that we make, to step away from the darkness.



NAF programme title:
 Bodhi - The Awakening - NUS Indian Instrumental Ensemble