Information Obesity: The Sickness of Our Generation

A novel addiction

At a wooden table situated in the corner of a bustling coffee shop, a twenty-something male is sitting down, alone. It is a rainy Sunday, the kind that often brings people to drowsiness. The young guy is absolutely preoccupied with his smartphone, constantly tapping on the screen, swiping and scrolling; his face is filled with complete boredom. He ordered a black coffee and it came to his desk around ten minutes ago. As of now, it is still untouched.

The guy typifies the stereotype of any young twenty-somethings of this generation. That smartphone of his has become an extension of his own body. Sadly, this scene can also be found anywhere in our world. People with smartphones in hands, constantly tapping, yet feeling utterly bored at the same time.

Humans have been increasingly consumed with (or by?) their phones. Constantly fiddling it and feeding tonnes of information into their minds every single moment they lit up their screens. Rubbish information; virtual garbage. This is the sad truth: we have lost connection to the real world. We have been a generation of ignoramuses. Keyboard warriors, so actively socialized in the virtual world, liking and commenting on posts, tweets, and pictures, yet completely detached in the real world. This mindless consumption of information, without the realization of many, has been a new type of addiction.

The lack of admission

Ask anyone why they kept on playing with their phones while managing to look unhappy at the same time. Some of the most frequent answers you would get are “I’m bored”. Our smartphones had somehow been the silently agreed solution to boredom. Yet people are unaware that this is a futile solution. We can agree that nobody is or can be happier when they turn to their phone to escape their own negative feelings.

The notion that our phone is the key to open the gate into the big, wide world is true, but nonetheless dangerous. Such a notion is a trap. Our phones are not the key. They are merely windows. In the imaginary world of our minds, we are little children who yearned to have some joy and went to sit by the window to look at the joys people are having outside, unaware that our room has a door. We just need to get up, walk to that door, turn the knob, step out and embrace the world.

Many people don’t have the ability or willingness to do just that. Because in the imaginary world of their minds, there are too many windows to look out from. These limitless amount of windows are projecting the virtual happiness of others to make us feel worse. (A weird bunch, aren’t we? The happiness of others only serves to make us feel worse.) We just need to scroll and swipe the windows. We are powerless to draw the curtains and shut all the pretty Instagram pictures and funny 9gag memes up because we are all addicts. And worse, we can’t even acknowledge our own pathetic predicament.

Uniform, mindless population

The outcome of such addiction is obvious. We have become less social in the real world, more ignorant and oblivious to others. But the single most dangerous effect of our addiction is our resulting inability to think.

Every day we feed ourselves with trash information at a tremendously epic rate. Each time we refresh our timelines, there is always new stuff that came up. It is as if we are some prisoner that was tortured with an abundance food, not the lack of it. Constant force-feeding, without any time to swallow, digest and breath. Constant scrolling and tapping, without any time to think, reflect and form our own opinion.

As a result, we have also evolved a different trait to our personality. Amazingly reactive to the latest issues and quite knowledgeable, yet completely bereft of original ideas and deep understanding of any subject matter. We are the masters at scratching (just) the surfaces of any latest issues. We as a species have become more uniform in our thoughts in this digital age, easily influenced into the mindless adoption of “cool” trends and fads. Our identity is thus being degraded fast.

I wrote this up, not to just spew another rubbish information for you to feed on. My real intention is that once you are done reading this, you would turn off your phone. And regardless of where you are at this moment, ask yourself:

Am I consuming way too much information?

Am I an addict? And more importantly:

Can this incessant consumption of information make me happier?

I hope at the very least that the answer to the last question is a no. I hope we can all recognize and break away from this addiction. Because once we do, even through a simple act of admitting the addiction, we will inherently know how to tackle it. We as a human being often already have the solution to our own problems. We are just tremendously ignorant. It is the time now to break the bad habits.

Not to be a hypocrite. I too have given some effort to win over the addiction.
In fact, I am that guy who sat on the corner of the coffee shop.
My coffee had now gone colder though but never mind that. I will instead give a pat on my own back and say “good job” to myself for having written something while sipping my tepid black coffee.

At last, this is my admission: I am an information addict and I am trying to defeat it. And so should you.