Obesity And Information Overload

Andrew Sullivan —  Jan 31 2012 @ 9:31am


Clay Johnson connects the two in The Information Diet: A Case for Conscious Consumption:

The concept of information overload doesn't work … because as much as we'd like to equate our brains with iPods or hard drives, human beings are biological creatures, not mechanical ones. Our brains are as finite in capacity as our waistlines. While people may eat themselves into a heart attack, they don't actually die of overconsumption: we don't see many people taking their last bite at a fried chicken restaurant, overstepping their maximum capacity, and exploding. Nobody has a maximum amount of storage for fat, and it's unlikely that we have a maximum capacity for knowledge.

Yet we seem to want to solve the problem mechanically.

Turn it the other way around and you see how absurd it is. Trying to deal with our relationship with information as though we are somehow digital machines is like trying to upgrade our computers by sitting them in fertilizer.

Brian Lam has reduced his web consumption, and points out that "clicking the like button 1 billion times will never give you an orgasm or a hug or a high five":

All this has freed up about 3 hours a day for me. I bought a model boat. I'm going to build it, and paint it. In the time I did that, I could watch 100 batman trailers (BAINNNN) or post that same batman trailer and rack up 100k clicks on The Wirecutter. I'm not batman-ing. I'm building my boat.

(Dum-Dum Bunny by Alan Sailer via Judy Berman)