The Infobesity Epidemic: How to Avoid Digital Overload

The Infobesity Epidemic How to avoid a digital overload

The lowdown on infobesity

I was driving along listening to the radio and Jocelyn Brewer, a psychologist from Digital Nutrition, came on and talked about how Facebook is causing depression and ‘infobesity’.  It seems to be an epidemic, just like obesity. Problem is, I think I’m becoming infobese. It really sucks.

infobesity noun

the condition of continually consuming large amounts of information, especially when this has a negative effect on a person’s well-being and ability to concentrate

Does this definition sound familiar?

The fact is, we are taking in more information than ever on a daily basis thanks to the internet.  Ms. Brewer mentioned one statistic that really made my ears prick up, “The average person consumes around 174 newspapers worth of information every day.” WOW!

The problem with this is that it’s far from being productive. This 174 newspapers worth of information is usually full of meaningless fluff like cat videos and memes (sorry cat lovers). This type of information isn’t the high-end knowledge stuff that helps us solve problems, it’s simply instant entertainment. We’re consuming almost 174 newspapers on auto-cue.

Click bait headlines and nasty trolls don’t make it any easier. Unfortunately, a lot of the time, they make us want to click through to more meaningless information which can then make us feel worse that were in the beginning. #fail

Become a digital literate

So here’s something to think about before you click on that enticing click bait headline or compare your life to someone else’s holiday image.  It’s all about how you think about it.

  1. It probably took that person 20 shots to get that perfect image
  2. Never overestimate a mild panic or fear headline
  3. Avoid FOMO (fear of missing out), it will still be there when you get back in an hour, a day, a week….nothing will change.

Should you do a digital detox?

Have you ever done a digital detox where you don’t use social media for a particular amount of time? I’m pretty certain I haven’t done one for more than a day, and when it came to the end, well, it wasn’t really worth it.

Ms. Brewer actually said she did not recommend that people do a digital detox. Why? Because, just like trying to avoid any other habits, you’ll go back to your routine when it’s over and likely try to catch up on what you missed out on through bingeing.

How can I avoid infobesity and its negative effects?

Instead of detoxing, Ms. Brewer suggests focusing on The Three M’s – Mindful, Moderate and Meaningful use of technology.  It’s about only consuming the stuff that gives you some purpose and avoiding those things that are useless and that bring negativity into your life.

Mindful –  Ask yourself how you feel before you go online? What is it exactly that you’re looking for? How do your mental and physical feelings change when you go online? How could I improve on reading these cues?

Moderate – How do I know if I’m over-reacting to something online? How can I keep track of my time on social media? What tools can I use to help me remember to pause before I post online?

Meaningful – Is what I’m doing online aligned to my goals? Does it positively contribute to my life and wellbeing?

 Do you suffer from infobesity? How do you manage information overload and the negativity that can come with social media and the internet?

Eva Lewis (The Multitasking Woman)

Eva is the Editor and Owner of The Multitasking Woman - a lifestyle and parenting blog.She always has her fingers in many different pies but wouldn't have it any other way. Eva is a Mum to her 4-year-old son, 2 month old daughter, two chickens, one dog and a fish called Bob and a wife to Mr G. They all live happily in their little cottage on the outskirts of Brisbane.

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24 Comments

  1. February 16, 2016 / 7:59 am

    This is really interesting, I do worry about the impact of social media on my children, especially as they are teenagers and in that impressionable stage of life. Perhaps we should introduce a digital detox each weekend. xx

  2. February 16, 2016 / 2:00 pm

    I agree with Nicole. I have two children – 13 & 15 years old – who are addicted to social media. I am concerned about their grip on reality! Hubby and I enforced a digital detox during the last holidays – we took them to a place with no wi-fi! 🙂

    • February 16, 2016 / 4:30 pm

      I don’t blame you. My son is only 4 but I worry about the digital world he is growing up in and have to be really on top of things. How did the no wi-fi go?

  3. February 16, 2016 / 3:23 pm

    Very timely for me! I’ve just had a major reassessment of how much time I spend online. Though I’m on there for work it’s so easy to get distracted and spend much more time there than I actually need to! #TeamIBOT

    • February 16, 2016 / 4:29 pm

      It sounds like you and I are in similar situations which is why this topic resonated with me. As someone whose whole job is based online, it’s difficult but I have been coming up with ways to avoid distraction. I’m not expecting it to be an overnight fix, but will keep reminding myself and being more aware of what I’m doing. Good luck!

  4. February 16, 2016 / 4:41 pm

    Yes I definitely suffer from infobesity! It’s difficult to moderate online activity between work,blogging and general life stuff but I need to be more mindful!

    • February 16, 2016 / 4:47 pm

      Don’t worry, you’re not the only one. Definitely lots harder when your work is based around being online!

  5. February 16, 2016 / 4:54 pm

    Mindfulness and social media – a delicate balance.

  6. February 16, 2016 / 8:17 pm

    I feel like I’m doing ok in this area. It takes a lot for me to actually click a link, and most of the time it’s because of a general interest. There’s always room to improve though isn’t there?

  7. February 16, 2016 / 9:42 pm

    Wow. 174 newspapers. That’s insane. Actually it’s astounding. I read a hell of lot daily from the moment I wake up until when I go to bed. Even at work I’m proofreading 60 page documents. It’s definitely information overload. I’d love a digital detox, but I don’t want to neglect my blog Facebook page 🙂

  8. February 16, 2016 / 10:05 pm

    I think I have days where I suffer from info overload and then others when I’m happy to just ignore it all. I like the approach you’ve written about though because it focuses on the why of what we do rather than guilt tripping about the amount.

  9. February 16, 2016 / 11:59 pm

    Hi There

    You this is becoming a problem in society where I feel we are getting “disconnected” from reality as spending time on your phone or laptop with social media has taken it’s place.

    Most of the stuff on there is fake in anycase or it causes people to become depressed because they see how other people “live” online and ask why their lives isn’t on that level. I hate that feeling.

    Personally I just follow people on Twitter who is in the same relevant industry as mine and skip all the fluff pieces which I don’t have any interest in at all. That way my feed provides me with the stuff that I actually wants to know. And I try to keep my following to a minimum, thus condensing things a bit.

    And if I had kids I will go as far as take their sim cards out of their phones or take away their tables until the next day before school if that is what it will take to get to spend quality time with them.

    But at the end of the day it’s your responsibility to ask yourself if you are going to get lost in all the internet has to offer or stay connected with what really matters.

  10. February 17, 2016 / 5:46 am

    Oh I love the 3 Ms! That’s a really important message. It’s tough when you actually have to be online for work. I have social media sites open all day while I’m at my desk. And then there’s social-social-media time on top of that. I’m going to write down the 3Ms and try to pull back a bit. The overwhelm definitely gets to me some days!

  11. February 17, 2016 / 6:10 am

    Awesome post and I love the point about digital detox just leading to more bingeing. I am trying to be more mindful of how Facebook is affecting my mood. I think as a blogger it’s tricky again as you want to support others and social media is such a big part of that.

  12. February 17, 2016 / 7:21 am

    Absolutely. It is overwhelming! I limit Facebook now to my commute and disconnect when I am writing articles. The content is too much to all take in. I have found that shutting down an hour before bed and reading a book helps. Great post. Following you now from #IBOT.

  13. February 17, 2016 / 9:20 am

    I have done a few digital detoxes on weekends and its great. I find I hardly watch the news or shows like A Current Affair as its just drama and info overload. Sometimes its so negative and too much. Often there are not enough good news stories mixed in with the bad! x

  14. February 19, 2016 / 1:25 pm

    Since the start of the year I have really spent a lot less time on SM and it’s made me happier and less stressed. I barely touch my phone when the kids are around. I am on my computer but that’s work and not SM. Interesting post. And I do love the new look!

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