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The current epidemic of infobesity feeds our minds with junk information

One of the great challenges in combating and reducing hunger where I live (Colorado, United States) is that those who are not hungry or food insecure believe that these problems do not exist because they are not directly affected. Yet one in ten people in Colorado faces hunger.

One of the main reasons people assume hunger does not exist is that people expect to see malnourished children or adults, but, they say, they often see the opposite, that is, obese people. What many people don't realize is that hunger means not only lack of food, but also lack of access to nutritious food.

When people are hungry or food insecure, they eat what they can, including low-quality junk food. The result, paradoxically, is that eating that food with little nutritional value can lead to obesity, and many times that is the case.

In the same way that it is difficult for people to accept the reality of hunger in Colorado (in the United States in the 21st century), it is also difficult for people to accept the reality of the lack of information in the world in the 21st century. That denial is due to the confusion of “information” with massive and uncontrolled distribution and publication of content.

But, just as the consumption of junk food leads to obesity, so also the continuous consumption of junk information leads to infobesity, a term coined a little over a decade ago and that is used to talk about information that, far from feeding the mind and soul, it intoxicates us, filling us with anxiety and leaving us without understanding anything, regardless of the amount of information we have accumulated.

Infobesity and infoxicity are real and, although they have existed for decades, they have increased exponentially in the context of the pandemic and even more so in recent days with the advent of the worst war in Europe since the end of World War II.

In the same way that, in extreme circumstances, hunger leads to eating any food regardless of its nutritional value or long-term consequences, so too hunger for information leads to consuming any type of information regardless of its origin, its validity, or the consequences of accepting that information as valid.

Even worse, in this post-truth age (which does not mean that truth no longer exists, but that truth has become irrelevant), infobesity frequently overlaps with "alternative facts" which, in turn, are based on or give origin to “alternative realities” and “conspiracy theories”.

And then, due to the sweet taste of infobesity that makes us believe that we now “know”, it arises to the self-delusion of believing that we now understand and that, therefore, we will understand even more if we consume more “information”.

To overcome this unhealthy self-delusion, we need to begin an information fast so that we don't consume everything that comes before us, even if it's attractive. Our understandable desire to be informed should be balanced with a need to protect our mental, emotional, and physical health.


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