Heather Houser explains that infowhelm is “the term I use to describe the phenomenon of being overwhelmed by a constant flow of sometimes conflicting information.”
Further, “Infowhelm goes beyond simple overload—it’s characterized by the crucial complications that data are uncertain and evolving (testing has been flawed and even the six-foot rule is up for debate), they’re contested by those in power (President Trump and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro), and the stakes of taking action are enormous.”
Since infowhelm involves not just the information itself but our ability “to filter and assess it,” Houser offers some advice for improving our data literacy.
If you’re one of the people having trouble concentrating long enough to read effectively, take heart: You’re not alone. Here Constance Grady interviews Oliver J. Robinson, a neuroscientist and psychologist based at the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience at University College London.
Tom Wooldridge—an associate professor and chair in the psychology department at Golden Gate University in San Francisco, a psychoanalyst, and a board-certified, licensed psychologist—discusses alexithymia, the inability to describe one’s inner life. “It refers to a cluster of features including difficulty identifying and describing subjective feelings, a limited fantasy life, and a style of thinking that focuses on external stimuli as opposed to internal states.”
While this condition might sound like what we’re all experiencing now during the coronavirus pandemic, Wooldridge explains that it is something we all experience in our everyday lives to some degree. “Developing this capacity – the psychic elaboration of emotion – is a life-long task with which we must all engage. It is a cornerstone of psychological self-knowledge.”
Learning to describe our emotions with “images and words, and subjecting them to ongoing reflection” is a key to continued mental growth, Wooldridge concludes.
Molly Creeden writes in the Los Angeles Times, “the unusual circumstances of being cloistered at home have proved a welcome change of pace, if not wholly enjoyable. And while no one is happy about the reasons we find ourselves in this abbreviated style of living, those well-suited to it are thriving.”
Read some of the explanations by people who appreciate the changes the current situation has brought to their lives and who hope to carry over some of those changes when the isolation restrictions ease.
Sweden did not set out to kill thousands of its older citizens. Nor did any country as COVID-19 swept across the globe. But Sweden’s unique and closely watched approach to the pandemic has spotlighted the tragic toll the coronavirus has taken on the elderly. It has cast a harsh light on the value that societies have placed on the freedoms of some to the expense of others.
Robert Bazell, adjunct professor of molecular, cellular, and developmental biology at Yale, argues that “The COVID-19 death rate in Sweden has exposed worldwide bias against the elderly.”
© 2020 by Mary Daniels Brown