On Information

A bit from a recent blog post by Emily Gould:

“They don’t have any information I need,” someone recently told me while explaining why he wasn’t about to strike up a friendship with a group of perfectly niceish people he’d met. You get to a certain age and you become more selective about what information you need.

Her friend's sentiment bugged me, mostly because it reminds me of an attitude I recognize in myself, but have actively tried for several years not to indulge. One of the best lessons I learned in my first real reporting gig was to make an effort to engage with practically everybody I came across while going about my business, not just the "important" people-- on the way to the conference, to chat with the cab driver, for example.

It may be more comfortable to send text messages to your established circle of friends when you're "off the clock" and not expecting to have a valuable conversation-- but often the most unlikely of people can provide you with just the information you need, or at least with interesting information that will really help get you much closer to what you need.

And, how do you really know what you *need* anyway?  Truly varied interactions are things that we often don't seek out-- but I think we'd all be way better off if we did more often. I'm reminded of what Moe Tkacik recently wrote in her blog post in New York Magazine of the economic crisis: "If rich white dudes had spent much time talking to anyone other than other rich white dudes, it would not have happened." 
New comment