We are often told that the more one knows, the better. But we were never told that if we know too much, then that may result in information intoxication. To know more, scroll down.

The coronavirus pandemic has shaken the humankind. And as we all are locked away in our houses, most of us make sure that we check the news feed each and every day. Be it the count of new positive patients or the news of a sad demise, we want to know more about it as soon as possible.

However, amidst this sea of information, we often forget that we should not go in too deep or we drown. Infoxication or Information overload occurs when you have too much info about an issue which subsequently affects your mental functions and even decision making. So the time when you watched that primetime debate or the daily news bulletin and just felt frustrated afterword you were intoxicated.

Current research suggests that the surging volume of the available information—and its interruption of people’s work—can adversely affect not only personal well-being but also decision making, innovation, and productivity.

Pretty obviously the focus of this lockdown is the coronavirus pandemic and we as curious consumers consume all of the information about this pandemic. But this blind consumption leads to fear and not awareness. The 24/7 news coverage of these unprecedented events serves as an additional stressor, especially for individuals with pre-existing mental health problems.

There is a famous English proverb ‘to paint the devil on the wall’. It basically means to have or offer a negative view of a situation, often when it is excessive or unwarranted. This proverb perfectly describes the media coverage related to this pandemic, be it national or global. You can notice this negative coverage by the fact that many news channels and portals often do not show the number of cured patients but emphasise more on infected patients.

Such a flow of information has already caused a great deal of damage. Recently a man in Shamli, Uttar Pradesh committed suicide as soon as he was admitted to a quarantine facility. He hanged to his death in a fear that he was coronavirus positive. The despairing part of this incident was that the person’s report was negative. The deceased was so frightened about coronavirus that he could not even decide about his own life. Similar cases have come up in New Delhi, Greater Noida, Firozabad, etc.

Amidst this flow of information people, knowingly and unknowingly, also spread fake news. Here another Indian proverb, ‘Knowledge increases through sharing’ is at work. When we get to know a fact, we want to share it with as many people as we can. Thus, fake news also presents itself as another troublemaker in such a scenario.

So be it the rumour that vegetable vendors are licking the vegetables or the rumour about the government reducing 30% pension during the coronavirus, it all adds up to the painted devil on the wall becoming more and more terrorising.

It is a fact that everyone around the globe is concerned about the spread of this wretched virus. However, in reality, a lot of us have forgotten to draw a line between being scared and being aware. Being scared will lead us to spread fake news and consuming every bit of information which will result in infoxication as well as hysteria. On the contrary, if we accept the fact that this virus will be affecting us adversely and consume information that is relevant as well as trustworthy then at least we can prepare ourselves to fight this virus.

Try to give yourself a break from all the news related to coronavirus for some time, be it television or the internet or social media. Do not misjudge this as not caring about the hazardous pandemic and becoming careless about the needed precautions. Being informed is a must but being over-informed is a choice and a risk not worth taking.

“Sometimes a pessimist is only an optimist with extra information.” 

-Idries Shah, Reflections


Featured Image Credits: Getty Images

Aniket Singh Chauhan

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In today’s time when all of us literally have the world in our hands, a dangerous effect of the same chases us.

We are living in times when information is floating all around us. We are all surrounded by a plethora of data that envelops us in its grasp. With the coming of the ‘smart’ phone and development of plenty of applications, individuals often find themselves at the centre of this ever growing storm.
What is truly scary is the fact that the phrase ‘little knowledge is dangerous’ is too much in play in our present context, especially in this generation which relies heavily on phone applications for information. What we, sadly, don’t realise is that the information that we gain from the internet is not always authentic and that the applications that condense news in a few sentences can at times have harmful effects.
One of the worst effects is that our knowledge gets too limited. And with this limitation, the retention of data/information in our minds gets lower. We read less and we remember even lesser than that. It doesn’t have to be a negative thing necessarily but considering how most one of us aspire (or claim) to be ‘aware’ citizens, the phenomena definitely has the scope of pulling us down. A third-year English honours student from Daulat Ram College goes so far as to say, “I personally don’t like to go through newspapers. It takes a lot of time. So I choose which kind of news I want to see and read about it on my phone.” Fair enough. You choose what you want to see. But is that enough?
The misinformation effect, which results into an inaccurate account of a past event due to post-event memories comes into play as we swipe/scroll over the screen of our phones while reading news. Most of us prefer to filter out stuff that we want to see/read about. But this effect would make sure that our memory remembers things only haphazardly, and in pieces and bits.
To be ‘aware’ citizens, therefore, it is important to dive deep into the waters of information and news and though it might not be possible for everything we read, we might at least try to read whatever interests us in depth. Floating on the surface can lead to burning under the sunrays.

Feature Image Credits: Research Live

Akshada Shrotryia
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