Information Vs Knowledge
By Umer Raza
Since the digitalization of almost everything over the last couple of decades, the “information” is without doubt the biggest beneficiary. Information reaches everywhere, affects everyone, cherished by all and indeed victimizes all. It can be true or fake, but it is a beneficiary. It sees its spread and growth. All of us are at least “informed”, thanks to the social media platforms.
It is not only easy to get information, but also to spread the same information. Sometimes it happens with a pinch of one’s own salt and on others the information just keeps on spreading without any one bothering to check the veracity of the news. Indians have seen the worst of this fake news as people especially Muslims and low caste are even killed. In Pakistan too, we receive our daily doze of such items where anyone forwards messages without knowing if it is true or false, or even conducting one’s own, at least a little, background check at it, or applying a little general knowledge check.
We spread the information to inform others or to imitate our own knowledge or to satisfy our ego or to cultivate a debate worth nothing. Most of this is done within the political realm as politicians and politics is the most vulnerable lot and politics is one of the favorite sports.
Just few such examples can be quoted as, last year when Mrs. Kalsoom Nawaz was critically ill in a hospital in UK a message was spread far and wide that she is actually dead and Nawaz Sharif Family and clan are playing politics at it. I am not concerned that if it was true or not (nor I have any source to confirm that her family is playing politics on her dead body), but my question was that someone (and many…. later) who sent this message (in different groups and to their contact list), did not have any source either to check the “intentions” of Sharif Family. They did not even have the source to check if Mrs. Nawaz is actually dead. But still the information had clients and it fell at our discussion tables.
Just few days ago a picture was circulated through different social media that PM Imran Khan kept seated while other head of states stood up in the SCO summit. This was actually true but it was added with a spice, that “when Israel PM entered in the summit or PM kept seated while other head of states were standing”. Those who made this might have their holy love for PM, but those who shared this were in absolute trans as they didn’t even know (or bothered to check) that Israel is not even part of SCO and its PM was not even in attendance in the summit.
Similarly, such social media plate forms are used to market some fake volunteer activities. Such as, help to someone in need and availability of free medicine and medical procedures for critical illnesses such as cancer. I happened to call at least a dozen of numbers once, given in such a message that said that a medical facility is available free of charge if anyone needs it. None of those numbers were responding and were incorrect.
I have just shared a couple of examples but I am sure you might know about many others.
As more digitally connected we are becoming and more politically informed we think we are, the more ignorance is spreading in our ranks. I would not lay the blame of this entirely on us. But our political elite and our rulers will have to share the blame for this spread of mediocrity in our rank.
Mr. Nawaz had been a ruler over us for almost thirty-five years (one can deduct almost a decade of Musharraf’s rule from it). Mr. Bhutto and his PPP has also seen a fair share of governance over the years. Mr. Khan’s people have all been in governance and policy making. All of them have their share in spread of this mediocrity. They have helped us to become politically informed yet socially and morally corrupt and mediocre. They could have done better instead.
Mr. Khan is honking over corruption and corrupt people, who have looted our nation. This is very right, as this should be done. (let me believe him as he is saying it for the first time….however, he still has to pass our “negativity” and “belief” check). But more than that what he and of course all of us are ignoring is the corruption of information. This corruption has virtually translated into the corruption of morality, social values and decency.
We take pride in belittling or glamorizing anyone without checking if what we are doing is correct and even stand the test of time. We take pride in sharing stuff that is good and consider it worthwhile to act upon by others and not our self. We want to be the first to ridicule any of the public figure we hate, while glorifying anyone we love, without taking the pain to check and without understanding that it will only go on to show our own lack of knowledge and may highlight our prejudices.
We indeed are very very politically informed yet we need a little more of political knowledge. Our leaders have missed this in the past and unfortunately rose a generation that is sadly though, emotionally charged and intellectually corrupt. They get emotionally charged up/down while watching a very insignificant act of foolishness or a tiny act of regular generosity and attempt to intellectualize a debate that only goes on to waste their and everyone’s time.
Let me also emotionally charge you while intellectualizing this piece by putting the blame on our rulers of at least last forty years, who actually have failed to raise a nation with knowledge and instead helped to create a fathom of information.