Gather information, ignore data

Thanks to fitness trackers, we are all flooded with a large amount of data.

We can all know our resting heart-rate, real-time heart rate or the amount of time we spent last night in REM sleep, deep sleep, light sleep, or laying awake in bed. We also have a count of how many steps we took, and how many minutes we spent at an elevated heart-rate each day.

Despite having all this data, only a minority acts upon it. Only a fraction of people set fitness targets, track them and use them to get in better shape. For the rest of us, that data is harmless at best. Data we cannot / do not act upon can turn into a source of stress – more so if those metrics fluctuate.

More data isn’t always a good thing. Data that we act upon is information. Data that acts upon us, but we do not act upon is a liability.

Fake news isn’t an internet problem

Just because some news  spreads quickly, it doesn’t mean that it’s true.

Gossip and rumours spread more quickly than the truth. Information that spreads most easily is information that is merely good at spreading quickly – news that is juicy, spicy, and piques our emotions. Truth, on the other hand, is nuanced and boring. It invariably falls behind.

Therefore, we are constantly surrounded by information that is interesting, but not true. If you care about knowing the truth, this is obviously a problem.

Has the internet caused this problem? No. The grapevine, gossip mongers, tabloids, and all manners of propaganda predate the internet. Most of them have been around ever since we invented language – our hunter gatherer ancestors often indulged in gossip. The internet has merely added rocket fuel to this problem by enabling the spread of sketchy information far and wide in the time it takes to click a button.

Fake news isn’t an internet problem – it is a human problem.