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In Defense of Not Knowing

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.

* * *

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.

In Defense of Not Knowing

On the beach, watching sunrise and contemplating what we need to know and why…

  1. Lindo Korchi says:

    It’s definitely interesting. When we admit that we don’t know something, it opens us up to actually understand things. If we claim to know everything, we’ll truly know nothing. Overall, it comes down to honesty. If we don’t know, there’s no reason to be ashamed about it, at least we’ll discover the answer sooner than pretending we know.

  2. Stuart Falk says:

    Totally embrace your thesis as I think we find transcendence in a variety of ways, including nature and the ebb and flow of urban oasis. Some cities lend themselves more to this experience than others and some that come to mind from my own life include New York, San Francisco and Paris, all of which offer a combination of factors which are absorbed by all ones senses.

  3. Its informative i like it. It’s a good article. Its more attractive and effective for people.

  4. I really like this post. In a world dominated by the online culture, it’s become way to easy to open up google and figure out an answer to all of your questions. But when you have that one moment of not knowing it can be almost freeing. To know that there is still a bit of mystery in this world.

  5. Alfredo says:


    Amazing blog! I am one travel lover and i want to explore all over the world. Would you like to join me? Anyone? It’s free!

  6. Izy Berry says:

    Great article and i feel the same way alot of times i ask myself i dont know why i am doing this but then when the time pass i realize it was a great decition

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