Are you suffering from information overload?
Is the news / media making you depressed, agitated, or angry?
Do you feel mentally sluggish resulting in low productivity and drive?
You may have infobesity caused by consuming an ever growing surplus of poor quality ‘infotainment’ and propaganda passing as substantive news and an addiction to brain rotting sugary celebrity gossip and reality TV fluff.
Consider a Low Information Diet
I recently ran across a couple of articles (see below) that are helping me to do some mental de-cluttering. I’m starting to craft my own version of a Low Information Diet. What is a Low Information Diet? It’s just what it sounds like. ‘Low Information’ does not mean ‘No Information’. It does not mean we stop learning, stop caring, and live in ignorance. Starving our minds of all information (inforexia?) would be just as bad.
A Low Information Diet refers to the action of consuming proper proportions of useful, high quality info. Here are a handful of points that I remember from the articles. Please read the actual source articles below (and the book), if they interest you.
ONE. Avoid consuming what doesn’t concern you.
Ask yourself if the ‘news’ you are reading or listening to will impact you, specifically, in the immediate future. Is this ‘news’ something useful that you can act on to improve your life or the lives of others? If not, then evaluate if consuming this ‘news’ is the best use of your time and emotional energy.
TWO. Limit and be very selective of your news sources
Pick high quality, sources on topics that you care about. Stay close to the source. Just as we should strive to eat unprocessed food, we should also strive to consume unprocessed information.
On adapting Michael Pollan’s famous food diet (“Eat Food. Not too much. Mostly plants”) for information:
“Seek. Not too much. Mostly facts. Eat low on the sort of ‘information food chain,’ and stick close to sources. (Source)
Keep the perspectives of your news sources varied; more varied, in fact, than may feel comfortable to you at first. We can’t afford to live in an info-bubble or echo-chamber. Some people point to information bubbles as the reason why Donald Trump’s election was a surprise to many Americans. Back in the old days journalists strove to be fair and neutral in their reporting. It was important to “get both sides of the story”. Journalistic integrity mattered.
These days most ‘news’ is barely disguised infotainment propaganda and celebrity press releases. Add to the mix ‘fake news’ from content mills in other countries, which may have affected the US election and is becoming a global problem. It can be stressful to know what information to trust. We need to have a laser focus when it comes to what sources are worthy of reading and listening to and taking action on.
THREE. Avoid consuming negative, news about fear, pain, and suffering.
It’s not good for us. It’s too much. We humans aren’t designed to take the weight of the world’s suffering on our shoulders. It gives us nothing but stress as we worry about other people’s problems on top of our own problems.
What I’m Doing
I used to have literally hundreds of stories in my various news feeds that I would scan through daily . Now, I have culled my RSS feeds to remove stories that cause me stress or don’t teach me anything I’m interested in learning. Remember, ‘Clicks have consequences’. Read the article below to learn how and what you can do about it.
This also includes the financial information I consume. I’ve also started cutting out a lot of ‘woe-is-me student loans ruined my life’ related articles and websites. I’m living that reality. I don’t need to read about it anymore. I don’t need to read about real estate opportunities, or high-flying investment techniques, because that’s not where I am right now. My financial picture is pretty set for the next few years until I get out of debt. My paycheck is wrung dry between taxes, student loan payments and retirement savings.
As I turn the corner toward 2017, I’m going to focus more on what I can change – meaning health (exercise and cleaning up my horrible food diet), simple living (clearing clutter and doing more to practice minimalism), and thinking about a side business/ second career/ or other sources of income.
Are you ready for an information diet? Here are a few sources to explore.
- Book: The Information Diet: A Case for Conscious Consumption by Clay A. Johnson
- Is It Time for You to Go On an ‘Information Diet’? Great NPR article on Infobesity and why ‘clicks have consequences’. You can read the article or listen to the interview with Clay Johnson – 6 minutes.
- How to Use the Low Information Diet for Better Day-to-Day Productivity – This is the article from which I described the key points above. Read all of the author’s points here.
“Debtor’s prison is real, and opportunity cost is a bitch.” (DDSW) [All posts on one page]
This is exactly what I did after the election. I decided to pretty much go cold turkey reading ANY news. I spend time reading some uplifting blogs and instagrams and looking at pretty pictures on Pinterest. I’m reading actual books too! There is just so much click bait out there, especially really sad stories about what humans do to each other. I finally said enough. It has really, really made a difference!
Yes, it does make a difference! I’m already feeling better…
I’m getting back to books too. The internet is a gigantic time suck and waster.
The internet and cable television both. Take your pick. I’m trying to focus on a handful of things that I find valuable and cutting down on the rest to avoid overwhelm, at least for the time being….
Timely topic, DDSW! I developed some bad news/social media over-consumption habits during the campaign season. I have been having a hard time going cold turkey but I have been weaning myself from it. (It was nice to hear some good news today about the Dakota pipeline permit being denied by the Army Corp.s of Engineers.) I did request a slew of audio-books from the library today to listen to on my commute. So, I avoid over-saturating myself with news.
Yes, library audio-books are a good thing. Plus, I figure that if anything important happens with respect to current events, people will let you know. I don’t need to go looking for it.
Being mindful of what we spend our times consuming is vital. If it is not growing your well-being or joy, it is okay to put it down.
Oh my god, we are personal finance twins!! At one point, I watched a whole bunch of documentaries and videos on youtube about the student loan crisis, and after a while, it gets to you. It gets you down. I know that right now, my federal student loans are just too big for me to be concerned about with my financial picture/low salary. But I am concentrating on the fact that I like my job, I am working with animals, and that I can work on side hustles or second sources of income, as you say. I’m doing legal transcription, and it’s feast or famine so when it is available, you dig deep and get it done!
As a librarian for ten years, I totally get the information overload concept. I like the term “infobesity!” I’ve stopped watching tv again almost completely. Might even sell the tv soon and put it toward the credit card debt!
I can tell you, for me, taking a break from television dramatically cuts down the exposure to ads. It does give you a little self-esteem boost after while because you aren’t being bombarded by ads for all the stuff you’re told to want or lifestyles that few people actually live, or impossible standards of beauty.
Exactly! I hardly turn on my TV these days. Instead, I watch videos on youtube, mainly, or listen to podcasts about things that interest me. Yes, youtube has some ads, but I just “skip this ad” as soon as it will let me, and ignore the rest that they are starting to put in the middle of longer videos. And yep, I realize ads for what they truly are – just trying to get me to feel insecure and like I’m not enough, and NEED to buy something. I don’t. I’m good enough, just being me.