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.
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 truth about infobesity
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 in how you think about it.
- It probably took that person 20 shots to get that perfect image
- Never overestimate a mild panic or fear headline
- 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 says she doesn’t 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 information overload 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 with 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?