Information, Infotainment, and Saturation Passivity


I think everyone knows that the Internet is not a very productive place. One can spend hours consooming silly videos, researching conspiracies (specifically, conspiratainment), or just streaming junk on Netflix. This waste of bandwidth has lead many people to useless passivity when, despite all these distractions, the Internet can be one of the most useful things ever invented. It is a tool, and much like a hammer can be used to build a house or ruthlessly murder someone, the user determines everything.

With that out of the way, let us dissect the title of this article, and figure out how to use this wonderful (and tempting) tool.

Mindless Consumption

This needs no introduction. Under this category falls all social media, streaming services, and other things on the Internet that waste our time. This is self-evidently mindless, so I won't rant about it. The less of this we do, the better.


Here is where things get complicated. Infotainment is deceptive in that it can teach something, but it is ultimately entertainment. Most documentaries fall under this category. Take for example The Food That Built America (an unqualified pomposity of a title!) which shows how the food giants in the US came to dominate their respective markets. It chronicles the rise of companies like Burger King, Heinz, and Bird's Eye, but for what purpose? Perhaps propaganda for bugmen that don't know where real food comes from? What really makes it infotainment is not that it is mostly inane historical facts but, in my opinion, the fact that it has extensive acting in it. Because the consoomer can't just hear words and observe old footage and pictures on their telescreen to get the idea, documentaries have added actors to "reenact" events, that is, to make it more movie-like for the Marvel-addicted crowd.

Infotainment can also be made out of actual information without realizing it. Imagine, for example, that you are very interested in the history of Rome. You watch a high quality documentary or two which, in my opinion, is not yet infotainment. If you keep watching every Rome documentary you can find however, wasting several hours everyday, the information has become infotainment.

The results of Infotainment are perhaps worse than regular mindless entertainment, because it leaves the consoomer thinking he is getting useful information when he is not, which leads to even longer consumption times. Unless one is on-guard with a discerning eye, it becomes very easy to fall under the spell of infotainment; it promises knowledge but doesn't deliver.

Saturation Passivity

Yeah, I made this part up, but it is phenomenon that I just recently noticed. We all know about Internet "experts" who think themselves very well acquainted with their respective subjects, but just how much do they use their knowledge? I reckon barely. Imagine I want to start a garden since the New World Order is breaking down the door (good idea, by the way), but have no idea where to start. So, like most people, I do some light research on the Internet. The problem? There are literally millions of opinions on how to grow such-and-such plant, whether to till or not, and how to compost. Quickly, I fall down the rabbit hole of so much actually useful information that I become obsessed with learning how to do things perfectly instead of actually doing things. In our gardening example, it doesn't matter if I know how to grow perfect potatoes, what matters is that I actually try growing them.

I guess this is all quite similar to the paradox of choice and analysis paralysis. We get so caught up in the information, saturated that is, that we become completely passive. The insidious aspect is that we are trying to do our best by gathering all the relevant information, but the absolute wealth of info can hurt us more than help us.

It is because of this, that I am making it a point to not consult the Internet for some things. It is better for us to make mistakes but still make progress than to make no mistakes and no progress.

Also, information can come from different sources which, luckily, are finite. To continue the garden example, asking neighbors how they grow such-and-such plant will get us a short, imperfect, but productive answer. Books are good too, because they are not infinite like Internet advice.

It is Not a Conspiracy

I'm sure some meme-tier conspiracy theorist would like to chime in and say that, "All that Internet information and advice is there to paralyze us into passivity!" No, I believe that overwhelming wealth of information is mostly organic: some people are really good at growing potatoes so they share what they know online; someone reads their post, disagrees with it, and writes their own potato growing guide. Don't you see how this can turn into a neverending cycle of information? Even useful information can make us passive.

Therefore, let us be more active than passive with our knowledge and Internet research. It is much better to actively grow imperfect potatoes than passively know how to grow perfect potatoes.