A little less information

In The Convivial Society: Vol. 2, No. 8, L. M. Sacasas explored the idea of doomscrolling and the constant pursuit of more information which isn’t helping us get through whatever the hell is going on right now:

My point turns out to be relatively straightforward: maybe you and I don’t need more information. And, if we think that the key to navigating uncertainty and mitigating anxiety is simply more information, then we may very well make matters worse for ourselves.

Believing that everything will be better if only we gather more information commits us to endless searching and casting about, to one more swipe of the screen in the hope that the elusive bit of data, which will make everything clear, will suddenly present itself. From one angle, this is just another symptom of reducing our experience of the world to the mode of consumption. In this mode, all that can be done is to consume more, in this case more information, and what we need seems always to lie just beyond the realm of the actual, hidden beyond the horizon of the possible.

I did a lot of doomscrolling last year and it messed me up big time. So I eventually stopped. It didn’t happen overnight and I still slip up from time to time but it was necessary to try and navigate through this pandemic because, as Sacasas said, it’s not more information we need. I need specific details and not hysteria and hearsay fueled by popular media outlets. And if I can’t get it, I have to leave it there until I either find it or make peace with that uncertainty (I’ll let you know when I get to the latter!)

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