Last Tuesday, author Clay Johnson sat down with NPR host Kojo Nnamdi to prescribe an information diet for the New Year. As the segment highlighted, although most of us are awash in information, the most avid information consumers are often among the least-informed citizens. We spend hours reading and sharing stories on Facebook and Twitter, watching cable TV and consuming shows, sound-bytes and stories online, but what do we really have to show for all of the time we spend?
The information we collect, read and share tends to be information that feeds a certain personal interest or affirms a certain political, religious or personal position, rather than presenting us with a broad-spectrum picture of what’s really going on around us and in the world. Additionally, much of the content that surrounds (and even fills) news sites and news programs covers less about International diplomacy and more about the latest celebrity breakups. As Johnson described, we’re suffering from a kind of “information obesity:” consuming too much “junk food” and too little healthy data and information.
Just yesterday, I realized that I was engaging in a junky media binge of sorts. It started on CNN and ended with me Google-ing and paging through numerous sites trying to find a pair of earrings that looked like some I had seen in one of CNN’s celebrity pictures in the Entertainment section of their site. As I reflected on the past month, I can sadly say that there are many days when I start with good intentions of catching up with areas of the world, technology and politics and somehow find myself looking at before and after weight loss pictures or reading the latest on Kate Middleton or Kim Kardashian. At the end of it, I’ve taken in an incredible amount of information, but so little of that information is actually edifying.
The result is that I end up distracted from my family, from my work, from the projects I’m really hoping to pursue, and all in all, I’m wasting a lot of time. For those of you who struggle with pornography, this scenario probably seems all too familiar: it starts with a lingerie add, and then moves into a few half-naked celebrity pictures and then three hours later you’ve seen hundreds of naked bodies.
We owe more to ourselves and to our kids. We need to model healthy media habits and use the good gifts—our minds, bodies and access to information—for God’s glory rather than for our own gluttony. As the New Year approaches, take some time as a parent to think through how you are spending your time and thinking about ways to encourage your kids to do the same. If you’re like me, it’s probably time to go on a little information/content diet. And remember, if you, or your children, are struggling to be free from access and addiction to Internet pornography, we have resources to help. Using a tool like our X3watchPRO can encourage online accountability and prevent you and your children from accessing X-rated sites online.