By Thomas C. Sheffield

What is your mindset? What are you consumed with? Are you consumed with reality TV? Are you consumed with nonsense that will not make a difference? Are you consumed with rims, weaves and social media?

We are focused on too many things that don’t matter.

One in five Americans would rather spend more on their data plans than on food. Fifty-nine percent of consumers pay $100 for their cell phones and 13 percent spend more than $200 per month. Although we have access to information through the Internet, I dare say we are dumber than we have ever been.

I am not OK with that.

Growing up, my father, a teacher, invested in my brother and I by purchasing a set of World Book Encyclopedias. We were lucky to have access to lots of good information. We were able to open those books and read about various subjects and people from all over the world. I was able to see maps of countries, regions and observe the world’s beauty. These books introduced me to great Americans that looked like me; heroes such as Frederick Douglas, Dr. Charles Drew and A. Philip Randolph. This resource opened up my imagination. It gave me the gift of the possibilities of the future.

Today, we no longer have to depend on a group of encyclopedias for information. We have access to more information than we had only three decades ago. Yet, over two thirds of high school graduates are unprepared for college. We are able to get information in real time and become connected to change agents all over the world. Our cell phones contain more information and apps to allow us to make better decisions. However, we are not using this tool for the benefit of our future and our community as we should.

We are constantly bombarded with images that ingrain cultural negatives – images pushing white as superior, black as inferior. We get caught up with videos of ignorance and rump shaking. We must change our mindset to use information to contribute more and add value to our society.

We have great opportunities to use our technological tools to solve the problems we face every day. In addition to the social justice issues we are currently facing, there are environmental challenges we have the talent to overcome. There are apps for our phones that – for free – will expose us to ideas to benefit our communities. I recommend The Party of Lincoln Ap, which encourages you to become a change agent. I also recommend the Ted Conferences Ap. You can watch talks modern values, futuristic technology and more.

Let’s take steps to become smarter and bring about changes to add value to our society rather than detract from it.

(Thomas C. Sheffield owns Nashville-based Thom Sustainable Consultants. Contact him at Visit Follow @tcsheff.)