Among the terms that appeared not so long ago, but firmly taking their place in today’s vocabulary, there is another one that sounds somewhat unusual – information hygiene. However, given that hygiene is not just a series of procedures, but science that studies how the external environment affects the human body, we can consider various aspects of this influence, including social ones [Domasenko, 2019]. Around us, there is too much information that a person is no longer able to “digest”. The problem is that a significant part of it, perhaps either false or unnecessary for us, but we do not have enough willpower, determination or critical consciousness to refuse to collect mega-, giga-, zeta-bytes of information coming from everywhere, but primarily through gadgets. Experts say that by consuming this information, we subject our brain and thinking to a very ordeal process. Therefore, our brains are overloaded with too much information depriving us from the opportunity to think strictly and logically, to work, analyze and draw conclusions. Involuntarily the famous phrase of Descartes comes to our mind ˗ “I think – that means I exist.”
There was a time when we were surrounded only by books, many books. But we agreed to endure the tightness, they were dear to us as sources of knowledge that had intellectual value, the more they read books in the family, the more developed and educated their members were. Now the situation has changed. Physical space has changed to information space, and information flows have replaced books. You may not have books in your home today, you can read very little, but can be informed about many things. However, the main feature of books, good books, was and still is that they awaken the creative process, make you generate thoughts, ideas, and images. The reader’s intellectual and emotional abilities are involved in the development of imagination, living in the author’s world, and as a result, s/he becomes a little different, more developed, experienced, wise, and meditating slowly. Today, “swimming” in the sea of information, we began to consume more, spread other people’s ideas, but produce less of our original intellectual product. For many of us, involvement in the information flow creates the illusion of participation in something important and necessary, although this is not always true.
Phrases like “I believe; this is my opinion ”today cause great doubts, because there is a well-founded suspicion that you are not so much expressing your opinion as borrowed from social networks that have penetrated your consciousness and thus become your position. Perhaps the person does not realize this and quite sincerely believes that he is completely independent and independent in his judgments. But the study of other people’s beliefs, one way or another, affects our views. Some experts believe that since certain types of information are no longer the property of only certain groups of people, and become available to all, we live in a post-information world [Francis, 2019]. Obviously, they meant that the information is losing its commercial value, acquiring some other characteristics in return.
It is interesting to note that futurist writers predicted the emergence of information overload as far back as the 70s-80s of the 20th century [Frenzel, 2015]. In general, many inventions of mankind from the printing press to modern digital technologies were aimed at the creation and dissemination of information. Today we are witnessing that there are practically no obstacles to receiving and disseminating information, messages, stories, figures and rumors. But one of the essential features of information waves is that they not only increase the amount of awareness but can disorient, scare, persuade, manipulate us and become a tool to achieve certain goals.
Today, in conditions of total quarantine, the involvement of people around the world in the information space has increased. World Health Organization claims coronavirus outbreak is accompanied by “infodemia” or information epidemic [Hou, 2020]. Firstly, people are trying to understand what is happening and how to confront danger. Secondly, many processes have “moved” into the digital field, regardless of our will. Also, the internet has remained as nearly the only entertainment for people of all ages and professions locked in a limited home space. All this has greatly increased the search for and exchange of information. Perhaps now is the time to be more careful on processing the information that we receive, according to information hygiene experts. Otherwise, as Aldous Huxley once put it, “the truth will sink into a sea of futility” [Biggs, 2017]. We often forget that the purpose of collecting information is to turn it into knowledge. Information is simply data, facts, and figures. If you do not translate them into real understanding, they are useless. While knowledge is that part of the information that has been transformed into a useful and valuable application [Frenzel, 2015].
You can protect yourself from information junk by focusing on clear and specific goals. What do you need to know or study? Scientists have pointed to the existing reticular activating system (RAS) in the brain, which is responsible for selecting the right information and filtering out what is not needed. But there are certain conditions for the successful functioning of this system. First is to define and formulate goals. To correctly and efficiently ask a request to the RAS, psychologists advise writing the task on paper. At the same time, a huge number of neurons are included in the process. Secondly, take care of the calm state of the body, good mood, physical health, lack of stress, because it is in these conditions that the RAS system works without failures. Otherwise, it can cede its functions to emotions and instincts, which in most cases lead to uncontrollable and irrational consequences, and, in the absence of a critical consciousness, to brain littering [Zen. yandex, 2019].
In addition to limiting the flow of information, it would be nice to learn the technical skills of checking the source of information; experts say that it is quite simple. As an exercise in information hygiene, it is advisable to find the primary source of the information received, especially if you intend to transfer it further, double-check it between several legitimate sources. Finally, you can simply ignore some input, notifications, unnecessary newsletters, unopened emails. We must learn to control the information; otherwise, it will take control over us.
Thus, a person’s attitude to information should not be just consumer. Our consciousness must constantly work, make choices, analyze, critically interpret, generate a response. The arsenal of tools for working with information is constantly expanding, which enhances our ability to maintain information hygiene.
Biggs, John (2017). Information is garbage. Retrieved from https://techcrunch.com/2017/02/03/information-is-garbage/. Accessed on 07.04.2020.
Domasenko, Marina (2019). Hygiene is a science that studies the influence of the enviroment on a person and develops the rules of personal and other hygiene. Retrieved from https://ktonanovenkogo.ru/voprosy-i-otvety/gigiena-chto-ehto-takoe.html. Accessed on 10.04.2020.
Francis, Anthony (2019). Information hygiene. Retrieved from http://www.dresan.com/blog/2019/01/20/information-hygiene. Accessed on 07.04.2020.
Frenzel, Lou (2015) Too much information? Here’s what to do. Retrieved from https://www.electronicdesign.com/communiqu/article/21802793/too-much-information-heres-what-to-do. Accessed on 07.04.2020.
Hou, Chia-Yi (2020). Shared destiny. Shared responsibility. Retrieved from https://thehill.com/changing-america/well-being/prevention-cures/481387-were-in-an-infodemic-with-too-much-information. Accessed on 07.04.2020.
Zen.yandex (2019). The reticular activating system as a search engine. Retrieved from https://zen.yandex.ru/media/id/5b3c8f4d796fdf00aa690f12/retikuliarnaia-aktiviruiuscaia-sistema-kak-poiskovaia-sistema-5e0875dcfc69ab00ad1f5c67. Accessed on 07.04.2020.
Nadirova Gulnar Ermuratovna graduated from the Oriental Faculty of Leningrad State University, in 1990 she defended her thesis on the Algerian literature at the Moscow Institute of Oriental Studies, in 2006 doctoral thesis - on modern Tunisian literature at the Tashkent Institute of Oriental Studies, Professor.