Information or Experience: Overcoming the Dilemma

Information or Experience

Evaluating the role of information and experience in our lives.

Living in an ‘information age’, experience, which may seem limited in significance, is the basis of everyday life.

Isn’t a paradox: What do we do when we meet our friends? Share information, more information.

But what are we hankering for all the time? It is experience.

Even using common sense we can see that more the information around us, more we go experience hunting. For instance do you see that the more we are being hounded by information, we want to experience more and new each time we encounter something familiar? Many are ready to experience things that their previous generations or the society considered taboo. Things considered illegal are being legalized slowly by many nations as the masses want to have a unique experience and primarily to avoid social turmoil.

No matter how detailed the information we possess about anything, experience tops it all.

The Good Side: Role of experience in career

Irrespective of the amount of information a candidate has why do organizations prefer an experienced candidate over a well educated fresher?

Experience grants one the knowledge of many situations inside out. Possessing information is like travelling with a map and exploring the terrain. It can prove to be time consuming and imperfect as we are trying to interpret the map all time. Experience is first-hand knowledge.

The Other Side: Why does this need to experience overrule information when humans are portrayed as thinking beings?

Information is an abstraction to convey the experience.

The primary level of experience we have is physical. Being addicted to a particular experience can make one go round in circles trying to recreate the experience. Many risk their life for the sake of a thrilling experience.

The subsequent level of experience we aim for is through ideas. Although it may seem outlandish most of our careers and aspirations are abstract: “I want to be successful”, “I want to be respected”, “I want to be happy”, “I want to be rich” and so on. To fulfill these ideas we create a picture and try to fill it step by step. After achieving the desired why don’t we stop? Because the experience we are seeking is an image which we can change anytime. The image may also be changed by circumstances around us. Most of the constant striving in life, which many accept as natural, is our own making.

Physical limitations bring the needed reality check on our unending desire to recreate experiences.

The Way Out
The way out of this dilemma is to be aware and avoid being slaves to experience. It is learning from the experience and transcending it which will make one see the shore of success.

I’m tempted to conclude this post by a quote from Albert Einstein which offers a neat distinction between using information and experiencing something: “It would be possible to describe everything scientifically, but it would make no sense; it would be without meaning, as if you described a Beethoven symphony as a variation of wave pressure.”