Roughly 45 minutes into an online search for a vegetable peeler, I looked away from my screen to realize the kitchen had grown dark and the day turned to night. I thought to myself, this is a problem.
The peeler needed to be tough enough to slice smoothly through a lemon peel, but also easy-to-clean and pretty enough to pass as artful — it needed to be the vegetable peeler I would own for the rest of my life. I found all this in a peeler I will call The One, which came with rave reviews from Mariah H. in Wisconsin, a woman I blindly trusted due to her strategic use of exclamation marks. But shipping cost $4.95 — a glaring injustice — and did I really want to spend the equivalent of my Saturday morning coffee on a luxury vegetable peeler? Nope. Instead, I’d keep scouring for The One, sans shipping.
The amount of information I felt compelled to consume for something as trivial as a vegetable peeler — still a fraction of the effort I put forth in my pursuit of perfect bed pillows — was perhaps slightly obsessive, I admit. But I know I’m not the only one who’s vulnerable to these types of research-induced, online black holes. I couldn’t make decisions for myself. I was addicted to information, and the relationship was a parasitic one; the more intel I gathered to help make an informed decision, the less control I had to actually act on it.
Information addiction was nourished into existence by the internet. It’s the force behind our absolute need to know every mundane detail about some celebrity’s life; it’s the reason we spend hours poring over Yelp reviews to triangulate the best bar in a five-block radius, and what drives us to gladly check the box that says, “Yes! Send me push notifications about breaking news.” But, as the internet is all but a crash-test for human behaviors before they are unleashed into reality, information addiction has since taken on a shape more brooding and fearsome, seeding itself into our cultural and political values and attitudes toward human interaction.
Living in this environment inherently changes the way we process information — consider the…