I read recently of someone suggesting that we might need a "diet of the mind". Some of us are over-weight with information. We gorge ourselves on data. We have to know what is happening to people in the world. We must know what all our Facebook friends are doing. We need to keep up with all the latest sports or celebrity news. We need to know what our church or social group is doing. We need to know the latest research about our profession. Information overload!
It's almost like we think that the more we know, the more we can protect ourselves from being caught off-guard. It's like there might be something out there that could save us if we just know what it is. But, what do we need to be saved from? Sometimes I think if I just knew more I wouldn't have to feel alone. If I could get enough friends on Facebook or followers on Twitter I will be OK. If I know enough about the latest global crisis I can keep safe from it's impact.
And sometimes this almost functions like an addiction. Information overload insulates us from having to interact with the people around us. We can only feel so much. We may feel so much empathy and sympathy for refugees in Syria that we don't have enough energy left to allow the empathy we feel for the person in the nursing home to motivate us to visit them. If we feel enough excitement over the victory of our favorite sports team, we don't have to interact with groups who are fighting for victory over cancer.
Maybe we need a new organization called Information Anonymous. Much as other addictions keep us from feeling our feelings and sharing our rich and sometimes confusing selves, addiction to information can be a shield against intimacy. Caring about everything leaves us so little energy that we end up caring about nothing. If we care so much about everything that we don’t have to decide what matters most.
I don't have to deal with physical weight loss at this point in my life, but I could certainly stand to lose some weight that over-consuming information has contributed to my heavy mind.