Consume information that is nutritious–useful and true, ie, close to the source or intelligently processed. Consume it in digestible amounts. And consume it in the right mix. Pay attention–your spending has an opportunity cost. Do not binge. Avoid snacking.

Information consumes attention [Simon]. Attention is finite [Csikszentmihalyi]. What you pay attention to determines your experience [James, Csikszentmihalyi], and ultimately who you are [Carr].

Overconsuming information—watching too much, surfing too much, emailing too much, and even reading too much—is unhealthy. Since information is usually consumed while sitting, its physical side-effects can include obesity, hypertension, sedentary death syndrome, diabetes, and heart disease. Since information–and especially new information consumed in an obsessive-compulsive way–alters the chemical balance in the brain, its psychological side-effects can include a distorted sense of time, shallow social relationships, “reality dysmorphia“, and screen addiction. And since information creates and reinforces beliefs, the social side-effects of consuming low-quality or homogeneous (or insufficient) information may include agnotology, epistemic closure, and “democratic failure” [Johnson].

References and further reading:

Nicholas Carr. 2011. The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains. Norton

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. 1990. Flow. The Psychology of Optimal Experience. Harper

Winifred Gallagher. 2010. Rapt: Attention and the Focused Life. Penguin

William James. 1890. The Principles of Psychology.

Clay A. Johnson. 2012. The Information Diet. O’Reilly

Eli Pariser. 2011. The Filter Bubble: How the New Personalized Web Is Changing What We Read and How We Think. Penguin

Maggie Jackson. 2008. Distracted: The Erosion of Attention and the Coming Dark Age. Prometheus

Matthew Zadrozny. 2011-12-23. The Information Diet

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