I was chatting to my housemate the other day. Like me, he’s a sucker for the web – particularly wikipedia. I came up with a trademark half-baked hypothesis.
Obesity is a modern condition that arises because for the whole of human history its generally a good idea to eat whenever you get a chance. You never know when the next famine is round the corner so always stockpile energy reserves. There’s a reason calorific food tastes good: that’s your evolved body giving you a nudge. It’s only in the last couple of generations that developed societies have a widespread surplus of food. The species has not had a chance to evolve a reaction to this, though if civilisation lasts that long, it may.
A similar situation arises with information. Up until the last century your sources of information were somewhat constrained and you could probably take in and think about everything. If somebody had taken the bother to write it down on precious paper or tell you about it then it was probably worth paying attention. The problem is now we have a glut of information and we can’t resist sucking it all down without being selective. The curiosity payoff cannot be sated. As a result, we feel mentally bloated and clogged.
Hence, infobese. It gives RSS feed a whole new feeling.
What’s the answer? Being more selective? Turning down that appetising link? I don’t know. I don’t have facts, I just have broadband.
UPDATE: I may have made up the word myself, I can’t remember, but I’m not the only one.
UPDATE 2: Another interesting article on infobesity from Jim Morrison, including tips on info-dieting.