Although to many—especially those who are in their early thirties or younger—it may seem unbelievable, I remember a time when there were no computers, cell phones, Instagram, Facebook, or other such things. When personal computers first arrived on the scene, many were saying that the future would be electronic communications and also touting that it would save trees because there would be no future need for paper. And while it is true that most communication and the sharing of information occurs electronically, huge tracts of trees are still being cut down for the production of paper. But what no one properly foresaw was the vast amounts of information that would be available to the average person, and how dependent we would become on it.
Yesterday I decided to upgrade my phone, which required that I go online and complete a form for a credit check. I was amazed when my application was rejected and the message that followed was “YOUR INFORMATION DOES NOT MATCH YOUR CREDIT REPORT.” My frustration increased as I resubmitted the application again and again, changing things such as “Dan” to “Daniel,” etc. Finally, in complete exasperation I called the number of the credit reporting agency to find out exactly what information “wasn’t matching.” It turns out the “information” they had about me was wrong. They had not updated their records to match my new address even though all my credit cards, phone account, utility records, etc. were notified. It didn’t take long to get it resolved, but the lesson I learned was that in spite of all the vast information that is collected every day, how much of it is wrong?
Here are some staggering facts about all the data swirling about us (as reported by Forbes Magazine in 2015):
- More data has been created in the past two years than in the entire previous history of the human race.
- Data is growing faster than ever before and it is expected that by 2020 there will be about 1.7 megabytes of new information created every second for every person on the planet.
- Within five years there will be over 50 billion “smart” connected devices.
- In 2015 there were a staggering 1 trillion phots taken and billions of them shared online.
- Facebook users send messages and view 2.77 videos every minute.
- Every minute up to 300 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube alone.
- In August of 2015 over 1 billion people used Facebook in a single day.
- Google uses an average of 1,000 computers connected through their network to answer a single query.
- By 2020 it is projected that there will be over 44 trillion megabytes of information collected and stored in the digital universe.
And the list of interesting data facts goes on and on.
An important aspect of all this data usage is how businesses have recognized the potential goldmine that personal data collected about people can be. They have discovered they can increase sales by tracking your personal information, such as your likes, habits, political views, religious beliefs, etc. and then targeting you with a focused marketing effort. Although this may be beneficial, even helpful at times for us to find products and services we need or want, it also has the potential of serving some very sinister agendas. This is why we should keep in mind that everything we do electronically is now being tracked and recorded by someone, somewhere.
In spite of all the vast information that is out there, we also need to ask ourselves, “How much of it is really that important and beneficial to my life?” With all this information swirling about our heads in the digital cloud, it is easy for people to get distracted and forget that the only truly important information everyone needs to know is the good news of Jesus. At the end of everyone’s life, people will discover that having a genuinely meaningful life, one that extends beyond the grave, is possible only by knowing the true information about Jesus Christ.