French Fried Information

Randall published this on December 23, 2018

What have you eaten recently?


I love french fries. They're delicious, inexpensive, and comforting. They're also easy to get.

But, I don't eat them every day. I want to, but to do so would be to subject myself to health risks that don't justify the pleasure that I would get from a steady diet of comfort food. It is widely known that one's body chemistry changes with foods ingested. The chemistry changes that french fries are known to cause are not changes that I want. And, spending the remainder of my life in a state of poor physical health for the sake of a short-term "Mmmm that tasted good" doesn't sound like a bargain. At best french fries are a once-in-a-while treat. Maybe you feel the same?

So what does that have to do with "decluttering the infoscape" (the stated mission of this blog)? Everything!

Here is my line of reasoning: One's mind becomes the sum of one's experiences, whether from direct experiences or from descriptions and depictions of other people's experiences, whether in print (on paper or screen), video, or audio. Information is to the brain as food is to the body. Over time, one's thinking becomes the collection of ideas one has acquired or ingested. Over a decade or two, this adds up.

Here's where it gets dangerous: With the explosion of information brought about first by books, then by movies, then radio, then television, then the internet (the web really), and now "social media", other people's experiences are generally now more available than one's own. The net result: You are the sum of what you've ingested and to a lesser degree what you've experienced. Your brain has been tuned, or more accurately stated -- "de-tuned" to reflect mostly the experiences of others.

So what's going into your brain with regularity? The optimist in me wants to hope that it's a steady stream of accurate, relevant, actionable, respectful, and testable information. That brain diet would lead to a cumulative positive impact on your thinking. Over time, and given enough good information fuel your brain would be stronger and clearer. The pessimist in me worries that that is expressly what's not happening.

Many people that I've observed day-to-day are ingesting the equivalent of "brain french fries". Without enumerating all of the observations I've made here (a task I may do at a later date), I will just say that the patterns I see are troubling. People are reading about (or listening or watching) other people, usually not near them, doing things that largely don't matter to them and never will. Worse still, the depictions are usually second or third-hand and take the form of "Someone says that someone else is doing something somewhere other than here."  Mostly it's hearsay and it's packed with bias and agenda.

So what has your mind ingested recently? Information can be like french fries. Is that really what you want to "eat" every day?

(Image Credit: Roland Tanglao.)

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