Information Overload!

August 4, 2010

Today’s post is brought to you by: my propsensity for being crotchety.

Ever notice how much conflicting information there is out there? Not only is it all contradictory, it’s all sold as The Most Vital Information Ever. Case in point (and one of my biggest pet peeves): health “news.” I’m sorry, but most of the health “news” that assaults our eyeballs from newspapers and our home pages isn’t “news.” A cure for cancer or diabetes would be “news.” A potential treatment for MS is “news.” The endless barrage of panicked tips on staying young and thin is not. I doubt many people want to read it anyway- it’s terribly guilt-inducing.

Part of the problem is that no matter what you’re doing in your life, it’s wrong. You’ll develop a surplus of adipose tissue (the dreaded f-word… fat), and die young, alone, and in great pain. Unless, of course, you follow this latest tip… which is sure to be contradicted a few weeks (if not days or hours) later by some new study. Take sunlight. Everyone knows that if you don’t wear sunscreen, you’ll get burned, which can lead to skin damage and potentially skin cancer. But, if you always wear your sunscreen, you’ll miss out on all that wonderful vitamin D, particularly if you live in a northern latitude (like me). Vitamin D deficiency can cause cancer. Surprise!

Or everyone’s favourite topic: weight and nutrition. Naturally, every single bloody scrap of “news” is geared towards scaring us into helping us to lose weight. Did you know that people slightly above the norm actually have lower mortality rates? At the same time, monkeys with low-calorie diets live longer. So to live the longest, you need to be slightly overweight… while eating substantially less. Ok. Got it. Just as long as you don’t eat meat, which is loaded with all those nasty calories, fat, and sodium. Unless- oops, turns out low-carb is better. Go for fruit, to get all those “super” vitamins and anti-oxidants. But be careful- the fructose makes you hungrier sooner. Have your kids drink milk to prevent osteoporosis… no, wait, don’t: it’ll eventually lead to weight gain (imagine that in a growing child!).

You get the point. I’m not trying to make light of people with real health issues, but what on earth has happened to common sense? You need to do what’s right for you. Yes, some people have high blood pressure and shouldn’t be eating a ton of meat. But others have lots of muscles; they need the protein. And guess what? None of us gets out of this alive. Even if you somehow manage to follow all these so-called experts’ advice, you will still die. Sad, but true.

This goes for writing, too (to throw in a weak link to our usual topic). You will get conflicting advice on how to improve your story. “It’s too farcical,” “It’s not farcical enough,” “Great dialogue!” “The dialogue is sooo stilted!” Eventually, you have to do the best you can and ship it off.

Really, that’s all any of us can do, in life and in writing. Take care of yourself, but don’t go crazy following contradictory pseudo-science. Make your work the best it can be, but keep it yours.

Thanks for joining us for today’s ridiculous rant. I’m off to have some ice cream.



One comment

  1. You’re absolutely right. There’s an information glut out there, and a huge proportion of it is contradictory. Much of it’s shallow. We are being told how to think and how to behave in every possible area of living, from nail cutting to nosehair removal to choosing a spouse to how many handwashings are too many, ad infinitum and ad nauseam.

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