How's the diet...?

On diets, reading and technology...

Huw Williams | 16:16, Friday 23 January 2015 | Turin, Italy

So, as we approach the end of January, dare I ask how your New Year's Resolutions are going? I gave up even bothering to make them years ago – after all, is there ever a worse time of the year than midwinter to try and start exercising more, eating less, or whatever other unpleasant disciplines we might choose to impose on ourselves? I wonder how many diets have been started and have crashed over the last few weeks.

But I have been sticking to one at least – the information diet. This idea has been around for a while now and its name draws quite a helpful parallel, because I interact with food and information in much the same way – if it's accessible, I tend to consume it. Nay, binge on it might be a more accurate description. And in these days when information is more easily accessible than McDonald’s, this poses a problem.

So how does the information diet work?

So how does the information diet work? Well, I kicked Facebook and Twitter into touch years ago, so now my news and blog reading list has been culled to a small handful of those that are consistently, genuinely helpful. And email checking is limited to two or three set times in the day (no more habitual "Oh, I'll just check…" moments.)

And the results have been quite dramatic. I have more time, certainly. Some of which goes on more deliberate reading – the kind that looks at my shelves of unread books and says "what looks like it will be helpful for me to read right now…", it's refreshing to set my own agenda of reading rather than allowing others to set it for me. And then there's also the more intangible feeling of being less bloated on information. With a million different voices and messages screaming and pleading with us for attention every time we go on-line, it is refreshing to feel a little less battered by information flow and a little clearer thinking with some more head space.

Of course, it's easy to be reactionary to technology and quite another thing to embrace it well. The elusive key is surely in staying in control of technology, ensuring that it works for you and not the other way around. Which is much more easy to say than to do, since the people who make and market the technology want you to work for them in some way. And most of them happen to be extremely good at their jobs.

"What we have today is superior technology and an inferior message."

I think I've quoted John Drummond (at least I think it was John Drummond) on this blog before, "What we have today is superior technology and an inferior message." and I think he said that circa 1989, long before I sent my first email or accessed my first website. He was right. We have access today to an unprecedented amount of words (spoken and written) which is a huge privilege, but also brings with it a real danger, namely that that which is most important can be drowned out in a sea of noise.

Of course it is no accident that God reveals himself to us in his word. The written word of scripture and the Word, his son. And he continues to speak to us in that small quiet voice which is there to be heard by all who want to hear it. I don't want to drown it out.

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