Right from the “fall of mankind” to this day, knowledge has been one of man’s biggest problems. Ignorance is bad. But knowledge also has its problems. Let us explore the effects of knowledge.
What is knowledge?
I remember reading a Philosophy and Logic textbook in school but had to start the page all over because after reading, it felt as though there was a problem with the arrangement of the paragraphs.
So I started all over but this time I had to reduce the reading pace by over 50%. It seemed the more I read the more confused I became.
So I won’t go into the complexities of the definition of knowledge. For this article, we’ll stick with Merriam-Webster’s first definition of knowledge:
“the fact or condition of knowing something with familiarity gained through experience or association” – www.Merriam-Webster.com
Even this definition could get messy if you look too hard at it so, don’t. Just know “knowledge is the fact or condition of knowing something.”
Now that we know what knowledge is, the big question now is not about knowledge being good or bad. Knowledge is meant to be good. Consider how your life would be if you could not read or write or use a smartphone. Not an option, seriously.
The big question is: how does what you know affect you?
This is important because in learning how knowledge affects us, we can get better at handling its effects. Let’s start with the problem of knowledge.
What is the problem with Knowledge?
The problem of knowledge has always been the individual who possesses that knowledge. It’s that simple. It has never been the content; it has always been the container.
Whenever you have knowledge OR have an idea OR an understanding of something; and you are unable to manage that knowledge, idea, or understanding, there will be a problem.
So many times in life we struggle with knowledge. Every time man knows a particular thing, he struggles with how he reacts to that knowledge.
Let’s have a closer look at how knowledge affects us.
Knowledge can enslave
This is the modern-day struggle. You can become a slave to what you know.
Living without a smartphone taught me a lot. I have realised that the modern-day individual struggles greatly with behaviour 1) when she knows she has something and 2) when she knows she can have what she is looking for.
You may ask: “isn’t that a struggle with self-control or the absence of self-control?” Yes, it is. But looking at it as a “lack of self-control” could sound vague. Things get real when you think of it as a struggle with knowledge.
Let’s start with what happens when you have something. Take the smartphone, for example, every smartphone owner struggles with the idea of having a smartphone. It is the unmindful reaction to this knowledge that makes us believe we can’t stay without using the smartphone.
The thing is: once you know that you have something or that you can have it, you are defaulted to think you cannot do without it. But that is not true, you CAN do without it.
Whether you are reacting to the beauty of the object or the benefits you get from using the object, you are reacting to knowledge. It’s undeniably obvious: knowing that a smartphone can entertain you is knowledge. It doesn’t matter how you look at it when you find it hard to keep yourself from using that phone, you are reacting to knowledge. That knowledge affects you.
It doesn’t end with a smartphone, it happens with a food you ate, it happens with television, someone you know, the list is endless.
To understand this more so we can learn how to respond to such knowledge and its effects, I’ll paint a picture using the total lockdown.
Here is what you can learn from the lockdown with regards to how we react to knowledge.
(My profound condolences to those who suffered or are mourning the loss of a loved one because of the pandemic).
Many thought they could not do without watching sports, going to a club, or eating a certain kind of food. But they survived it. Outside those with psychological issues such as addiction, every normal human survived staying without some of the things they thought they couldn’t do without.
Why were they struggling to do without these things before the lockdown? The reason is simple: once we have or know we can have something good, we are defaulted to think we cannot do without those things.
All any normal human being has to do to take back control of themselves is to realise they can do without those things. Most times it’s not difficult. You just think it is difficult.
Is there anything pulling you? Entertainment, smartphones, whatever. Once you know you have them or can have them, the default lie is that you must do them, you must use them. Get rid of the lie now. You don’t need to do them, you don’t need to use them. You can do just fine without them.
The next time you find something pulling you wrongly or unnecessarily, say to it “that sure looks attractive but I can do very well without it” then take your eyes and your mind off it immediately if possible. And if I know the brain well enough 2 seconds it too much for it to finish all that.
Do not become a slave to your own knowledge. But no matter how strong your will-power is, to effectively control the effects of knowledge you need to control what you take in through the five senses. You also need to control your environment. And you may not be able to react properly when you are stressed or under an intensely emotional situation. What happens then? We’ll see about that before the end of the article.
Let’s see how knowledge affects the way you see things.
Knowledge affects the way you see things
The other thing about knowledge is that it affects the way you see things. Cutie, there is a filter between the eye and the brain. This filter is greatly influenced by what you know.
Sight is not only a function of your eye. Most times it incorporates the brain, the mind, and the eye. This can either work for you or against you.
If the first spray you ever saw was a hand sanitizer, you are going to look at a bottle of perfume and think it’s a sanitizer if you don’t read the label.
Whatever comes from your experiences, the books you read, what you listen to, I’d like to simply file all those under knowledge. They constitute what you know; what you know affects how you think; they all affect the way you see things.
The knowledge you have about a particular thing affects how you see that thing. It affects the way you think about what you see. It ultimately affects the conclusions you draw from what you see.
Let’s take some real-life examples. Let’s start with the person who had their hearts broken because they couldn’t wait for adulthood before playing with fire. From that time on, she will never see a boy the same way and he will never see a girl the same way. Also, if your first business online was a scam, you will think differently from a person who’s making thousands of dollars online.
That knowledge (or experience) will always affect the way you see others, even the way you react to them. And most times you are going to be wrong. You have the knowledge of a bad experience. To be able to correct the way you see things, you need more information to have a balanced view of things.
How about those who find moody guys to be intelligent? Or those who think that something bad, scary or erotic is bound to happen during rainy seasons. Boy, you are trapped!
Nowadays many youths think a relationship with someone of the opposite sex must involve sex – a wrong idea they have picked up from movies. That knowledge will always affect the way they see relationships unless they are taught to believe otherwise.
At that point, all you are doing is thinking with a flawed knowledge base.
It’s a version of what Ngozi Chimamanda calls “a single story.”
Since you have had an experience or known something to be true at a certain time in a particular condition or place, you now believe it is the same every time, everywhere.
That is not true unless it is proven to be so by “reliable sources.” You are most likely struggling with insufficient knowledge. If you want to have a good life you have to learn more so you don’t keep making wrong conclusions based on a flawed knowledge base.
How Knowledge affects change
This is a tricky one. Knowledge of who you used to be, the things you used to do, can play pranks on your mind even when you have changed.
There are situations where you change or get better at something but then the knowledge of who you used to be in the past suddenly shows up and at that moment you feel like your previous self.
This may make you react like your previous self when in fact you are no longer the same person you used to be. You have gotten better; you have added to your skills; you have changed in that regard. But the wrong reaction to the knowledge of who you used to be could create fear when you aren’t supposed to feel any.
This is when a changed person, an improved person reacts like the less-skillful, less-powerful, less-knowledgeable person they used to be. It’s funny at times.
Have you ever gotten something only to find yourself feeling like you still don’t have it? Have you ever learned something but sometimes react like you don’t know it? Have you added some new skills to your skillset but still find yourself feeling like your old, less-skillful self? Have you become the righteousness of God in Jesus Christ through faith but still act and think like the old you? You most likely are still reacting to the knowledge of who you used to be. Get rid of it. Embrace the new normal. You deserve it.
You need to come to the knowledge of your present self and act accordingly. Learn to live in the reality of the new, improved you. Be confident about your new self and make the most of your new skills.
Sometimes such feelings may be there to let you know that you still need more to be who you planned to be. But other times, it’s just a wrong reaction to knowledge deposits of your old self.
There may be occasions when things are just beyond you. No matter what you have known or done, you just can’t live in the present reality of who you are. This is where you may need to seek professional help and mentorship. But in most normal circumstances, simply recognising this knowledge problem can mean a lot to personal development.
Another funny one here. This is like living in an unproven reality. How does this work?
Have you ever found yourself being scared of a problem you are yet to solve because you have heard about how challenging this problem was for those who tried to solve it before you?
That’s another knowledge issue right there. I see this in sports all the time. Can you remember the last time you were up against a difficult opponent or obstacle? Or maybe when you had a very good player on the other team?
Truth be told we all get concerned about these things and rightly so. But in some situations, it gets a bit abnormal. This is where people fall before the punch lands. They lose balance immediately Lionel Messi comes within one meter of where they are.
A lot of people find things “hard” to do not because it’s actually hard but because someone said “it’s hard.” So many are afraid because someone said “I was scared.” That’s just a wrong reaction to knowledge. People drop out of contests or refuse to show up for a match for this very reason.
This is a miserable way to live. How can you ever know how good you really are if you’ve never pushed yourself? How can you find your mistakes and weak points if you have never contested? Unless you meet the problem with your real self, unless you failed with your real self, you will never know what you could have done better.
The thing is: there are times where you know you are not good enough and need to improve. But other times it’s just an unnecessary reaction to what you have been told or something you read.
Either way fear is never the best approach. You’ll need to learn to react calmly to whatever it is you know. That is the only way to come up with real possibilities regarding the situation you are facing.
Don’t let knowledge cripple you. Don’t let fear created by the knowledge you have of a particular thing cripple you. Learn from other people’s mistakes. Find better ways of handling the problem with the time you have. Don’t get crippled by fear of what some other person went through.
Tips on Knowledge and How to handle its Effects
(Written by Ekemini Robert. First published on Clurse.com Continue reading below)
Every kind of tip you find on handling knowledge will most likely fall under this.
You have to continue learning. You may never know how to react if you have not learned it. Other times you will react wrongly because you only know one version of the story.
You need to avoid the dangers of a single story as Ngozi Chimamanda rightly puts it. When you see things only from a single perspective you are bound to react or see a certain. Most times we are wrong. If you learn more, you may find that there is another story about life that counters your previous experience.
When you are well-informed, you will be properly positioned to make the best decision.
Many of us block out new ideas for several reasons. We may do it because we have so much trust for our first source of knowledge. We believe because we learned it at a certain place or from a certain person, that it can never be wrong and it can never change.
Most times we are right, other times we are wrong. It’s hard to see things differently when it comes from someone we love or respect. I have to tell you, most times it’s the truth, other times it won’t be true. There will still be times when what we heard was true but has changed over time.
Remaining open will help you to avoid sitting on the wrong side for too long. You will go from believing and defending the wrong things to seeing new truths and realities.
But remaining open could also make you vulnerable – open to receiving wrong ideas. One antidote for this is to retire to your drawing board from time to time. Fact is, whether you remain open or not you are bound to be exposed to negative attitudes and ideas on a daily basis. You have to learn how to return to the drawing board at intervals. You can do this through prayers, taking some time off, or making time for revision, more research, and learning.
You could decide to revise a book daily or once a week. You could watch a good movie you have already watched before. Because most times you learn nothing or worse, you learn crap the first time you watch a movie. When you watch it a second, third, or seventh time you are bound to see things more clearly. At that time you watch it with a level head and can consciously dismiss lies about life you may have believed the first time you watched the movie.
More importantly, Keep learning. Keep reading. This way you can learn some new things to counter the wrong ones you took. You may also find something you already knew but forgot over time.
Control what gets into you through your Sense Organs
Control what gets into you through your sense organs, especially the eyes and the ears.
Do not use the idea that you have to keep learning or remain open as an excuse to expose yourself to things that will corrupt or destroy you.
There are things you don’t have to hear or see. Because if you do, they will become a problem to you for the rest of your life.
This is very important for a young person. There are things you are not matured enough to know or experience. I tell you the truth: a lot of us adults have become perverts, addicts, and callous humans because we did something we shouldn’t have when we were young – when we were yet to understand or become matured enough to handle the effects.
Now some have a hard time keeping a relationship because of what we learned from an immature way of life. Because they learned the wrong things, some men look at a woman and see an object instead of a human being. The list goes on.
There is time for everything. It’s easier to get addicted as a youth. For most things, it’s better you never do or experience them than to try to undo the damage. Things like sex, drugs, gambling, binge-drinking, cultism, etc. What if you land in jail before then? What if you drop out of school or perform poorly in class because you are trying to fight an addiction?
Protect your senses. And if you have already seen or heard of it, don’t fall for the knowledge trick we discussed in the first topic of this article – How knowledge enslaves. Realise you can do without it. That’s just the truth. You won’t die, you won’t go crazy. It’s just a thing about the human brain. Don’t fall for it. You can do without it. Whatever it is – thought or action, you can do without it.
Besides, the brain is never satisfied, the more pleasure you give to it in form of entertainment, sex, drugs, the more it gets used to it, and the more it will require. So don’t fall for the lie that you will just do it once and forget about it. The more you do it, the more you will want to do it. If you haven’t already, scroll up and read how Knowledge enslaves to learn how to properly react to this kind of knowledge.
While you learn, while you try to remain open or control your senses, realise you can’t cheat the learning process. You can’t cheat growth. You are bound to make mistakes where you are yet to know or understand.
But when you fall, dust yourself up and keep learning. More importantly, learn from other people’s mistakes. Just keep learning but at the same time, allow yourself to grow.
It is good to know. But knowledge can destroy or corrupt you if not consciously brought under control. While you ramp up knowledge, also learn how to control it.
Learn how to react to information, learn the things you need to know and the things you don’t need to know. Understand that even when you know certain things you don’t have to experience them to avoid damaging yourself.