“Just as we have grown morbidly obese on sugar, fat, and flour—so, too, have we become gluttons for texts, instant messages, emails, RSS feeds, downloads, videos, status updates, and tweets.”
-The Information Diet: A Case For Conscious Consumption
Social media, aside from being a globally-used source of entertainment, has evolved into a crucial source of information and knowledge. While some people may think of Facebook and Twitter as merely a connection to friends and family, I think it has become an undeniable and unique source of information. Knowledge is spread over the internet and television across the globe at a speed that is often difficult to comprehend, and its power is indisputable.
But as we know, with power comes responsibility. Critics of this new wave of information believe that it is often challenging to distinguish between quality and inferior information. A case study done by three undergraduate students focused on the scale of trust that internet users found in the information provided by several social media websites. Specific sites included Wikipedia, Social Networking sites, Yahoo! Answers, and YouTube. They surveyed nearly 500 undergraduates to collect data on the level of quality information these websites displayed (on a 4 point scale, 4 being the most trusted information). The most widely trusted information was with user review websites. We would therefore trust the information given by someone who recently tried out a new restaurant (3.28-3.62) more so than we would trust the information given by social networking sites (2.76-2.9). From this article alone it is evident that as receivers of this information we are constantly weeding out unreliable information and that people maintain different views on what information is legitimate and what is not.
The blog that I read included an excerpt from the book, The Information Diet: A Case For Conscious Consumption, by Clay Johnson. The main argument was that we can make the analogy between consuming food and consuming information, as we must consciously decide how much and which types of information we are taking in. The author notes that it is now quite obvious that just as we as a society have a problem with the over-consumption of food, the new speed of information sharing has widely distributed junk information. It is now our social responsibility to create a healthy balance of information in our lives. I found this blog to be really interesting because of the specific analogies made, such as our constant need to be texting, tweeting, and posting perhaps useless information. I think it is pretty crazy that the average human spends 11 of the 24 hours a day consuming information, when much of this information may not be as important as we think it is.
The video below illustrates the books main concepts. Check it out!