Critical Thinking Media Competence

Information Diet

The right alimentation is just as important as the right consumption of information. However the problem of  society is that there is too much information, what makes it more difficult to distinguish between the right and the wrong information for each person individually, like the artist Austin Kleon said: “You are a mashup of what you let into your life”(Maria Popova, 19/01/2012).  The information sieve is too large-meshed, why too much unnecessary information enriches our life. All the more important it is to reduce and to optimize the information input to become more delicate in dealing with these.

Clay Johnson gives in his book “The Information Diet- A Case for Conscious Consumption” a detailed instruction, how to deal with the problem of information overload. It combines the world of foods with the world of information and represents the relationships between them.  Johnson was the co-founder of Blue State Digital and managed the online campaign for Obama´s presidency in 2008. After this project he was the director of the Sunlight Foundation, a non-profit organization, which is committed to open government globally and utilizes technology to make government more accountable to all (“Our mission”, sunlightfoundation.com). Johnson´s versatility and experience in work makes him peerless in his opinion about culture and media (“About Clay”, informationdiet.com). In his book “The Information Diet”  he gives a  guidance about how to change the habits of daily information admission. The first step is called “Keep a Journal”, what means to check and write down the time, spend with the consumption of information to become an overview of the daily information input. (“How to start”, 01/02/2012) The benefit of this is to recognize the ‘time wasters’ and avoid them, since they hinder the productivity. A break in watching TV for example is a win -win situation, as it brings more individual time and protects against TV advertising, the probably worst case of information admission. “Cut the Cord” is the designation of the second step. (“How to start”, 01/02/2012) The task is to remove all unhealthy information sources from the daily schedule, for example the cable package, gaming apps on mobile phones and shopping websites.  However “trying to go on an information diet while you’ve got that super advanced cable package is like trying to go on a food diet while having a milkshake tap installed in your kitchen.” (“How to start”, 01/02/2012) Furthermore another advantage of cutting the cord is to stint money instead of spending it for extra TV channels or in-app purchases. Clay Johnson’s third step is to “Set up your system”, which means to restart the whole information system and to retain the most important information. Helpful would also be an adblocker so that the seduction of using entertainment or online shopping is reduced. In addition to this, information must be taken from original sources since it is better to establish own opinions without having opinions from  others in mind.

At bad alimentation the cholesterol level increases and the body gains weight, this signifies physical consequences. The situation is similar with excessive information input, what though entails psychological consequences for the body, for example it leads to deterioration of cognitive abilities, like loss of memory or effort and stress.

Today everyone permanently is forced to receive information to resist competition pressure. It is important to be up-to-date with any information to be succesful in work life.

To escape from the stress of the daily life, it is relaxing, though, to also consume non-sens ones. However even if people try to adhere on an information diet, it is quite hard not to become depressive owing to the fact that nearly every newspaper or news broadcast is reporting about war, rape and natural disasters. The few positive news they report about are drowned out by the negative ones and even fall into oblivion. That is the reason why some people consume ‘junk food information’ to hide from the depressing news and enjoy the bright side of life.

In review of the written words it is left to say that all of us know how it is to be on a diet. It is frustrating, makes depressive and it is a waste of time. Since we know that diets often fail due to there are no helpful instructions, it is time to change our habits and finally start a successful information diet. Clay Johnson helps us to reach the aim of consuming ‘healthy’ information. First of all, check the habits of information consumption and point out the distracting things. Then try to avoid or replace them with good information. At least make sure that you have the possibility to create your own opinion about your consumed information. It has not only to do with the food itself, if we eat healthy or not, but it also has to do with changing our eating habits. Just as the same it behaves with the information admission, because it is about the consumption behaviour and not about the quantity of information. We consume without asking and after that we are wondering ourselves why we feel bad about it. Finally we have to say ‘healthy’ information is good, so do not forget: “An apple a day, keeps the doctor away.”

However we sometimes all need a ‘chocolate goodie’ for our peace of mind.

List of References:

  • “Informationsdiät -Zeit für die wichtigen Dinge”, www.erfolgreich-im-leben.com/blog/zeitmanagement/informationsdiät-zeit-für-die-wichtigen-dinge.html
  • “Informationsdiät - weniger wissen, mehr erreichen”, Dominik van Awe, 15.Juni.2013,   www.authenic-charisma.de/informationsdiät-weniger-wissen-mehr erreichen/
  • “5 Schritte zur Informationsdiät”, Thomas Mauch, 02.12.11        www.imgriff.com/2011/12/02/information-overload-5-Schritte-zur-informationsdiät/
  • “Wir erleben eine neue Form der Ignoranz”, Johannes Kuhn, 30.01.2012 www.sueddeutsche.de/digital/internet-pionier-johnson-im-gespraech-das-problem-der-desinformation-ist-akut-1.1270515
  • “Our Mission”, www.sunlightfoundation.com/about
  • “Was uns wirklich krank macht”, Geert Lounik,22.06.2011, www.faz.net/aktuell/feuilleton/debatten/digitales-denken/informationsüberflutung-was-uns-wirklich-krank-macht-1595689.html
  • “About Clay”, www.informationdiet.com/about
  • “How to Start Your Information Diet” , 01/02/12, www.lifehacker.com/5872436/how-to-start-your-information-diet.
  • “The Information Diet: A Case for Conscious Consumption”, Maria Popova, 19/01/2012, www.brainpickings.org/index.php/2012/01/19/the-information-diet-clay-johnson/
  • “Eating only dessert: Why your information diet is probably terrible [Feature]”, Justin Pot, 28/09/2012, www.makeuseof.com/tag/eating-dessert-information-diet-terrible/