Are you an intellectually obese person?

To be honest, I found myself in a really strange position the last couple of weeks - I was thinking of writing something about how we tend to overshare things on social media, and how we need to concentrate more on the quality rather than the quantity of information. I started writing about it, then I stopped and tried to re-write it, but it didn't seem good to me at the time.

Then, luckily, I stumbled upon a great article by Gurwinder @G_S_Boghal about intellectual obesity which had a great impact on me. It got me thinking about how I process the information online, and how I share that information. It got me motivated to wrap my head around everything I have been thinking of and to write this blog post as a way of providing my point of view, experience so far, and some decisions I have made along the way.

What is the intellectual obesity?

It is, if I might add, a really convenient, term coined by the author and means that we are consuming a vast amount of information which, as junk food, makes us obese. But the part of our body that becomes obese is our brain.

As you all know, we live in an informational age where the information itself is at every corner, with a click of a button, and most of that information is of low quality (read junk). Our mind processes that information like it processes sugar - it gets hit by a dopamine rush on each consumption, and it always wants more. It ends up flooding our brain with a lot of information, most of which is unnecessary, making us unable to think things through, learn something new, reflect...

Am I an intellectually obese person?

In short - yes, I am. And let me just give a brief explanation of why.

First, my line of work expects that you're always in the loop, updated on the latest trends, technologies, and so on. And second, there is my private life and my endless curiosity for various things. If you read my blog, you saw my jumping from one topic to another.

This means that I'm overwhelmed with various information daily - how to do this, how to fix that, what is the best training plan, what book should I read next, oh wait, there is this podcast I should listen to... I'm not sure how you deal with it, but I think I need to find a new way of coping with the information overload!

I need time to think, reflect, and learn about the things I read, listen or watch.

The information overload often leaves me tired, not able to think things through, and missing some important stuff. I feel like a deflated balloon.

Things we can do

As described in the linked article below, there are a few things that we can do to keep our minds healthy when it comes to junk information, and the things I will incorporate into my way of handling things.

  • Use the 10-10-10 rule. This means that before clicking on something you need to raise awareness if the information is useful to you, and how will you feel about it in 10 minutes, 10 months, and 10 years. If you do not get any straight answer to any of these questions, discard the information. In other words - when you search some topic, or how to solve some specific problem - type it in your web search and slowly go through the results, don't go open each result in a separate tab and scroll through them like the house is on fire. Except if your house is on fire and you are searching for a firefighter's number.
  • Limit the use of junk information sources. Endless scrolling never did any good in the end, it just leaves that feeling of emptiness and tiredness, with occasional outrage or anger. We don't need that.
  • Write. Write about the things you have read, listened to or watched. It will help you better understand them, find some other perspectives, and define your opinion on the matter.

How will my intellectual diet look?

First, I will start with being aware of the information I'm consuming and its impact on my life in both the short and the long term. This will include - not clicking on the content just for the sake of not properly reading it, cleaning my e-mail inboxes and unsubscribing from all of those newsletters I "accidentally" subscribed to (heads up - this doesn't mean that you should unsubscribe from this blog).

Next, I'll limit my time on social media. I never was so keen on being on social media, if it weren't for this blog, I'd probably deactivate my accounts, but I will filter the information out, and will apply the same thing to the blog as well.

Third, and last one - I will for sure write more! This really got me motivated to write, and I will continue to do so, but probably not in the same manner as before - I'll limit my blog posts to once or twice a month.

Again, I encourage you to read the article shared below to get a deeper explanation of what it is, and how intellectual obesity impacts our brain. I will finish with the quote from that article that propelled me into action.

And when you notice the myriad holes that all this junk has left in your memory, then it’ll finally be clear that you weren’t consuming it as much as it was consuming you.

You can find the article below.

The Intellectual Obesity Crisis
Our addiction to information is clogging up our minds with harmful junk