The ‘Information Diet’: You Are What You Read

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This topic contains 3 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by  Susan 6 years, 9 months ago.

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  • #151333

    Overconsumption doesn’t just happen at the dinner table anymore. A new plight is affecting Americans — and others in the Western world — and it has nothing to do with the junk we eat.

    It has to do with the junk we read.

    Author Clay Johnson recently wrote an op-ed in the L.A. Times about why we should blame ourselves for the content we see online and on TV. Like our food diets, our information diets have changed — and not for the better.

    We are hard-wired to crave salt, sugar and fat, all of which were hard to come by in earlier eras. But in this age of plenty, at least in developed nations, industrialized food suppliers have filled supermarket aisles with delicious but unhealthful concoctions aimed at satisfying those cravings. Why? Because we buy them. In the case of information, we’re wired to seek out and retain facts that are essential to our survival. Instead, we’re loading up on false information, and that can trigger fear instincts unnecessarily.”

    With a plethora of information more readily available than ever before, it is easy to become lazy. All too often I see posts circulated on various social media sites that purport to contain “accurate information” that turns out to be rumors, or worse, plain old lies.

    And it’s not just my friends. I have more than once fallen prey to a salacious headline or juicy tidbit of information and clicked without thinking. Although I consider myself more conscientious than I was when I was in my early 20’s, it is not always easy to determine fact from fiction when looking for news online.

    Johnson asserts that our online habits have immense power, and I am inclined to agree. One of my resolutions this year is to put myself on an “information diet”, as he suggests.

    What about you? Do you agree with the concept of the “information diet”?

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  • #151339


    I like the book very much. There are some people who will not challenge their pre-existing beliefs and the challenge occurs when these folks are in a position to obstruct progress or discussion by others.

    Clay has actually built a framework, using junk food as a metaphor that most of us understand all too well, that can support good decisional analysis. Would like to see this researched and more operationalized.

  • #151337

    Jeffrey J Kontur

    I agree. In fact, without having been familiar with the term until today, I’ve been on an information diet for several years. I do not watch TV news. (It’s almost never positive or uplifting and almost never affects me personally. For truly important events, I will easily find out because it will be splashed all over the internet and every person on every street corner will be talking about it. I know exactly what’s going on in the world, that you very much.) I also restrict what I read online. Mostly that’s newsletters that I’ve consciously subscribed to or social media sites which I believe can advance me professionally. I pretty much avoid everything else.

  • #151335

    Corey McCarren

    I can say that I am definitely guilty when it comes to breaking an ‘information diet’. I love reading things that aren’t true because I find them ridiculous. In particular the part about things that are ‘necessary to our survival’. I find anything that says that the Earth is going to end impossible to not read about, but I know even clicking on that link online gives it more popularity and only perpetuates ridiculousness!

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