Every time I’m writing, I find myself using the phrase, “I don’t know” in one of my stories. It’s usually something like: “I don’t know why I feel this way, but I…” or “I don’t know the reason for this, but here’s how it is.” Every time I write it, I pause for a second. From my communication studies in college/university, I know that journalists should be exact in their writing. Watch any TV drama about journalism and you know that “not knowing” can be dangerous, lethal, libelous or any number of criminal things.
But you know what? It’s okay.
Our world relies on facts. With social media flying through our lives full of information, data (big data or small data, I don’t know), quotations and soundbites, we process a lot of information every day. A LOT of information. This ties into my general annoyance (albeit strange annoyance) at doing “too many amazing things.” There’s just too much information, too many facts. And you know what? We’re missing something critical in all of this: emotion.
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People ask me all the time to describe Berlin—the atmosphere that I go on and on about, what it’s like to be here or doing this or doing that. But I never know how to put it into words. I don’t know how to write it, how to say it. It’s just this feeling that I’ve got.
I don’t know if there’s a word for the emotion of not knowing (ironic, I know), but there should be. This feeling of ambivalence, but not lazy. A feeling of blind passion, but one that’s not dangerous. It’s a feeling of total submission, of passiveness, but not unsympathetic. It’s a wonderful feeling—to not know, and to not care. And while too much of it can probably be considered dangerous, reckless or perhaps even morally criminal, I think it’s something we need more of. It’s what makes us human. As technology makes our lives more complex (and more exciting, and easier, and probably better), there needs to be something that still separates us from computers.
So I urge you to not know something. To live a little recklessly and to embrace the feelings of anti-knowledge.
Maybe this feeling is something we could attribute to the beauty of youth. Not youthful beauty, but the idea that as young individuals, we have this curiosity for the world–where we haven’t yet discovered something, but we’re still able to have an opinion, an insight, even a knowledge. It’s a beautiful way to experience the world.
It’s human nature to want to know, to want to understand. But even when you think you know, or even when you think you understand, there’s always the potential that there’s more. If we really knew everything, would that be so great? Some things are better not known. There’s a nicety to ignorance.