Tomorrow, Google will celebrate 23. In just 23 years, Google has managed to change the way we do so many things that the list is too long to remember. But perhaps Google’s first revolution was the way we gather information. It is with good reason that we tell people “Google it!” in order to find out something. You would think that making knowledge so accessible to everyone would make the world a better place, but reality has proven otherwise. Knowledge, we have learned the hard way, is not the same as wisdom.
Knowledge is the accumulation of information; wisdom is the ability to use it correctly, which is what really counts.
It is great that we can find all the information we need so quickly. However, although information is so easily accessible, we are not happier now than we were 23 years ago. By all accounts, we are more depressed, anxious, violent, and generally more miserable.
Why are we so miserable? We misuse the information that we gather with such ease. Without knowing how to use what we know correctly, the more we know, the more miserable we feel.
The benefit from Google’s success in making knowledge readily available is that it shows us what our world really looks like. It shows us what humans do to one another and to nature, and that humanity is only growing meaner and more vicious.
If we want to be happy, we must use this information wisely. What we know about ourselves must prompt us to seek to change ourselves, to change our very nature, which makes us harm each other so readily. We clearly cannot help ourselves.
Now it is time to shift to the next level of learning, to use what we know with wisdom and make our world a better place. To do that, we should not seek external changes, which will only distract us from the crux of the problem. No, we should look within, at our own motivations for the things we do and say.
Alone, we will not be able to change our nature from the nastiness within us and become caring and compassionate. Together, there is no end to what we can achieve. Indeed, if we support each other, we can even turn ourselves into completely different human beings: kind, caring, and connected.
Everything we learn from Google or from any other source should go toward improving ourselves. There is no other problem in the world but human nature. It is our own vile disposition that tells us to look elsewhere, but it’s a decoy; we should not be tempted. The sooner we learn it, the sooner we will know how to distinguish between knowledge and wisdom, and how to use knowledge wisely—for the common good, and for our own.