Commonspace Columnist Ian Dunn suggests we need to go on information diets
THE prime minister conspired with a pig and the Pope to rig Volkswagons to explode when they see migrants. I think so anyway, being in France my information sources are limited to mildly comprehended snatches of the local news and the occasional wifi Twitter blast.
Back home, I’m an information addict. Constantly scrolling, accessing, devouring whatever I can find out about anything that I find vaguely interesting.
But what seems natural in the day to day suddenly looks like wrestling a tornado of incomprehensible noise from the outside. The last decade has seen a revolution in how we consume information.
Across social media, there is a constant complaint about the sources of our information: the BBC, the Daily Mail, the Guardian, the National.
I was a voracious reader of books as a teenager and a young man, but that’s dropped massively in the last few years. The slow rustle of turning pages has been replaced by the unblinking stare of a shining screen, that demands to be tapped again and again.
This is the biggest, fastest change in the lives of people in western Europe in half a century. This is an information revolution, the consquences of which we can’t begin to guess. We’re funnelling amounts of information into our brains at a rate previous generations couldn’t even imagine.
This will have an impact. We’re increasingly fascinated about the impact of our diet on our lives. We impose more and more restrictions on what we eat, in the hope of improving our health.
Yet at the same time we happily guzzle at the information trough, stuffing information into our brains. In a generation will we suffer rapid and unprecedented memory loss? Is an epidemeic of strokes awaiting us before retirement?
Perhaps it’s time we took responsibilty for what we consume. In our constant consumption we focus endlessly on the things that upset us.
One thing seems clear, our guzzling of data is not making us happy. Across social media, there is a constant complaint about the sources of our information: the BBC, the Daily Mail, the Guardian, the National.
No matter what the content being produced, there is a steady, unending wail of disgust about it. Perhaps it’s time we took responsibilty for what we consume. In our constant consumption we focus endlessly on the things that upset us. Like the glutton who bemoans his gout while stuffing foie gras down his throat.
The industralisation of food production lead to mass obesity. Unless we learn to control our intake of information we risk obesity of the mind.
Picture courtesy of NEC Corporation of America