The future was already here – it just wasn't evenly read.
“It is the historian’s function, not to make us clever for the next time, but to make us wise forever.” ― Jakob Burkhardt
Dr. Conrad Gessner was one of the first people to raise a concern. He was respected by his colleagues and his professionalism made him a serious thinker.
So when he warned the world about the effects of information overload, people took note.
In one of his five books, he described how the modern world overwhelmed people with information and that the human mind would be confused and irreparably damaged if something wasn’t done.
We’re living in an era of information overload: oversaturated algorithms, the claims of fake news, and constant interruptions from notifications.
We see how Dr. Gessner's concerns were real.
We bemoan the unprecedented risks of living in a digital world that doesn't seem to have an off switch. We look for digital detox opportunities and quiet spaces. Our digital quagmire is a byproduct of the 21st century, and it requires a modern sensibility to address it.
Dr. Gessner was proven right, after all. How did Dr. Gessner prepare himself for this expected onslaught?
Well, he took his own advice to heart: he never once used e-mail and didn’t even own a computer.
Not because he was a curmudgeon about technology. He was very well-read and had interests in a number of fields: physician, naturalist, philologist, and bibliographer.
But he wasn’t concerned about Facebook updates, selfies, TikTok videos, text messages, emails, or even the Internet itself.
How did Dr. Gessner manage to avoid all of this?