Junk Food and Fake News

There is a growing awareness around health and wellness that has changed the way people eat. The quest for a healthy body and the zest with which people have started exercising is visible wherever I go and whoever I speak with. This cuts across age groups, and countries. The young and the old in many different corners of this beautiful world seem to have woken up to the benefits of eating right and exercising regularly.

I am hopeful this same wave of awareness that has changed the consumption patterns of what we put into our bodies and how we look after them, now will move towards what we put into our minds and how we take care of them as well. 

As part of my UpGrad course on Digital marketing that I am wading through, I was watching a video where Yuval Noah Harari unpacks the ideas he writes about in 21 lessons For the 21st century and something he said stuck with me. “People are willing to pay a lot of money for high-quality food and high-quality cars, but not for high-quality news”. If consumers have decided to say no to junk food and say yes to good quality fare, I am hopeful with growing awareness about the damage that fake news is doing to us individually and collectively, we will start paying more attention to what our mind is consuming. (In other words where we are giving our precious attention)

The current news model, as he puts it is “Exciting news for free in exchange for your attention.” Free exciting content that is mostly junk and not good for you, but oh it’s so damn tasty. How difficult is it to say no to free food that makes you feel good in the moment but does so much damage in the long run?

This is why Fake news feeds on our attention. It’s free and we are giving of our mind space freely too. In exchange for that dopamine hit and that feel-good factor as we distract ourselves by scrolling through another social media feed rather than do the hard work that is the equivalent of eating well and exercising regularly.

Yuval elaborates. “Truth gets completely pushed aside. It’s not part of the equation”. The configuration of the information market is based on consumer behaviour. If we as consumers start voting with our attention and wallets it will signal a shift in the market and the powers that be will begin to reconfigure their offers. From free and exciting to expensive and fulfilling. Till then clickbait will lure the feeding frenzy and we will have minds full of junk food. Your attention is precious, use it judiciously and make sure you consume content wisely – advise that is easy to give, but so very difficult to follow.

When do I end up binge eating on junk content? Through the day, I find myself guilty of this bad habit. When an online meeting drags on and I am off camera, I have a little nibble of my social feed. During lunch if I am eating alone, I dip into some of this stuff again. In the evening when I am watching TV with wifey and I find myself toggling between screens, I am guilty of this bad habit again. Healthy consumption begins with awareness. I need to keep track of what I am eating and feeding my mind and then consciously start changing my habits. Healthy eating and healthy content are both important for body and mind. If not sooner than later it will lead to discontent. Ask yourself, are you paying attention to what you are eating? Start by simply keep track of it and you will be on the right track. Mind it!

The views and opinions published here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the publisher.

Nikhil Dey
Nikhil Dey is Executive Director, Adfactors PR.

A trusted coaching and communications professional, Nikhil Dey is a certified life and leadership coach (International Coach Federation - ICF). Nurturing talent and helping clients achieve their goals is what makes him happy. He loves learning from students of communication, teaching courses and guest lecturing at various educational institutions. When he is not working you will find him on the tennis court or out for long walks with his family and four legged friends.

Previously he has held senior leadership positions at Weber Shandwick and Genesis BCW.

He can be reached on twitter @deydreaming

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