Are You An Information Relay or A Portal?

by Jerrico_Usher

Information is potential power but invalid data can corrupt power

The world is full of people who relay and people who are portals of information. The difference between the two is that those that relay are doing just that- relaying information, often that hasn't been verified or validated. Those that are portals give people verified, validated, and comprehended data. This isn't to say it's always right or true, but relaying information without realizing the full comprehension of what your relaying can be dangerous or at the very least could cause issues you don't foresee.

In this article I will talk a bit about both sides. We are all both relays and portals at certain times but many are more disposed towards relay than portal and that makes for a lot of wasted time, likely invalid data being acted on or used to verify other data. This causes new problems instead of solving them and eventually others come to not rely on "relayer's" information. This article comes from an intellectual debate I witnessed and found fascinating.


Relay or Portal
Relay or Portal


What's A Relay ? and What's A Portal?

If you think about it, everyone plays one of two roles when it comes to sharing information. You're either a "relay" or a "portal". Anyone can be either at any time but the "portal" distinction is not just automatically given to you, it's an earned process.

Most people spend a lot of their time in relay mode. I did once upon a time and found that eventually it catches up to you when a "portal" type calls you on your information, often in front of your friends or in a public medium like a forum. Being a relay means you channel information, but don't actually completely understand it to the point where if you were challenged you could actually provide proof or information that would prove your point.

A portal, as you may have guessed, is someone who learns something so completely that when they tell you, they come from a place of true confidence. Their posture shows it, their body language backs it up. Their information is often sound.

This is not to say that everything a portal or someone in portal mode says is gospel, but being able to admit when someone else has better information is what helps you to become a better information tap. Many relays don't do this, they back their information with their very reputation even though they know they are just repeating what they heard from what they consider a valid source but haven't validated it in any way.

The Game Of Telephone

Game Of Telephone
Game Of Telephone

The relay people are easy to spot. Their body language doesn't generally back their "facts" or "figures" especially when challenged. These actions actually annoy people because it means they are probably wasting their time listening to more, but manners would force them to hold back what they know, because likely the relay will just take what the portal says and will relay it often distorting it as they go since they have no foundation to comprehend fully what they heard. If you've ever played telephone you know what I mean.

If someone repeats a phrase that everyone in the "telephone" line of whisper transfers fully understands and is on the same page, the "call" goes to the last person with minimal if any at all distortion. The perception is the only thing that would change really. If what's being whispered is by any party in the chain not fully understood/comprehended what's passed on is distorted by perceptions that may not be informative enough to pass it.


debateI tend to get into debates with relays a lot because I've gotten into the habit of qualifying information. If someone tells me something that is fascinating or interesting, and I am considering adding this "data" to my research, I will first ask them qualifying questions about the topic to elicit just how much they actually know.

Someone who researches information before integrating it into their toolbox (mental), knows exactly where they "heard" it, or can provide enough background to prove they know what they are talking about. Portals aren't perfect, sometimes they get it wrong, but at least they researched it and attempted to understand it enough to back what they are saying. It takes good listening and the ability to realize when and admit when your information may be wrong to be a good portal.



When I'm acting as a portal I debate what I know when challenged but I also listen and back down gracefully if I'm proven wrong. At the very least I will take new information and re-validate what I know cross referencing what I heard in the challenge. This is the process of evolution and you should always try to be open minded, even if your passionate and sure of what you know.

In this day and age of time not being sufficiently available in the short 24 hour day to do everything you need to do in a day, it's not unreasonable to demand quality portals to extract new information from. One thing I like about the news is they are required to prove their information (*snicker*) and to have a valid source... If it's good for the news and efficiency (and time is money right?) then it must be good for people too. (the news often skirts the relay phase as well but they do so without stating what they are saying is fact, often they use words like "may be" or "according to ___ sources...)

I'm not talking about the small talk or normal gibberish conversations we engage in for entertainment and bonding, I mean those people you tend to listen closer to because they help you reach that "I want to learn something new and potent each and every day" point.

I actually choose my friends based on (in part) weather or not they just talk to impress others with dazzling facts they just recycled (re-tweet?) from someone else without even attempting to know it well enough to competently explain it and answer questions about it, and those who can debate the topic because they aren't just passing along hearsay. Passing on hearsay is fine if you use qualifying statements like the news does i.e. "I heard, but haven't confirmed yet, that _____".











Information and time multiplied by action = power or rather potential power. Your inner circle needs to be quality people, with ambitious dispositions. They need to be varied in career choices. A good strong social network is built on a foundation of diversity, your friends should (some of them) have qualifications or skill-sets you don't have, and you generally should have something of value to offer them. For example if your a doctor you offer free advice and treatment or help deciding things medically, where by you may be a tax attorney and the doc may be in tax shelter trouble :) You get the idea.

With so little time available, and so much to accomplish before your a millionaire, we need to be more careful who we choose as friends, or at the very least whom we depend on for reliable information. Relayers waste our time when we need serious answers, portals make us feel like we invested it (our time).

I do enjoy relay's during some social events as they tend to be obvious when they aren't fully congruent with what they are saying (body language, confidence in the voice as they talk etc...), but relayed information is a lot like reading blogs, you can read them and they may spark a topic you want to learn about so they've given you a seed to validate and learn more about.

I have relays and portals (I like having people who are portals predominately) in my circle both inner and outer, but I keep a balance. Nobody can claim to be one or the other all the time really but we all are at any given time predominant to one or the other. Relays can bring value because they tend to act as a sort of "headliner" regurgitator. They offer information and you have to do more research to be sure, but sometimes you'd never think to look something up if you didn't hear it. You have to keep in mind that anybody at any time even those you trust always validate what they pass on, could be wrong, or the information could be tainted- always validate (if it's something you want to know for more than simply entertainment value that is).


If my relay friends (those who don't make any effort to understand the information they are passing out) and my portal friends mix enough times, the portals will educate the relays and the relays may start realizing the potential power gained or lost by their decision to pass or actually first absorb and comprehend the information they are passing out (regurgitating).

In some cases I see this happening (portals calling relays out through debate) and I see the shame in the faces of the relays as they realize just passing on information isn't always a good idea and can be an embarrassing debacle if the wrong person is listening and annoyed by the ignorance of the conversation. I refer you to a great scene from good will hunting that illustrates my point nicely:

Portal: Matt Damon's Character "Will"

Relay: Poser With The Ponytail

An Amazing Example Of How A Portal Is Groomed- Experience- Robert DeNiro's Part is Priceless

Relaying the wrong misinformation or information can be dangerous or embarrassing

Keep in mind misinformation can actually hurt people- even what seem like benign facts.

If you want to become rich, for example, you will need to choose your friends, choose your information sources, and save yourself time by only going to portals for answers to the tough questions, or better yet, become a portal by always researching fully everything you plan on telling others. Many companies pay a research team to do this for good reason.

The video below shows how two portals can clash as well and how sometimes a portal has the right information but is applying it to the wrong person. In this clip (sorry for the video quality, I didn't upload it) in the famous scene where Bradly coopers character hands Dinero's character a dose of reality. Some portals become too arrogant for their own good, based on past reactions and over inflated ego:

DeNiro just got finished portraying the scene in the video above, then the other guy proved he's a better portal

Sorry for the person who taped this from a TV, but it's the only one I could find with this full scene.

In Conclusion

I realize there are a lot of details between portal and relay embodiment, (and a few were played out in the videos above in different situations) but my point is your credibility is based, especially online, on what you say or information you share. If your relaying information instead of validating it before you share it could damage your reputation and worse the people you pass it on to taking it as gospel could become compromised if they act on it. Think before you share/speak, someone is always paying attention and will, if they don't know, validate what you say and may, like Will on Good Will Hunting, embarrass you if your way off and/or can't debate it.

Below are a few more portals:

George Carlin

Will Smith - This is An Amazing Collage of Realities

Updated: 07/04/2012, Jerrico_Usher
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