Winters have set in. So has smog! And we continue our fight against pollution with no significant respite from previous years. We knew winters are coming, air quality index would sky rocket making breathing a deadly task, we knew about the problems of stubble burning and others that lead to severe air pollution. Still we hardly found any news, communication related to steps taken to safeguard citizens, to manage the issue and better the lives of a common man.
On the other hand, we found an interesting news early this year doing the rounds on internet. China Built The World’s Biggest Air Purifying Tower And It Works! It is not a news. It’s a complete conscious communication. It sends out some strong messages to the world. It implies the government is aware of the problem and taking necessary steps. It reinstates China’s onus and commitment towards its people. It showcases the government’s ability to foresee a problem, find a solution for it and effectively execute it in a timely manner.
Communication is all about action or lack of it. In the case of China, action is the communication. In case of Delhi, the communication is lack of action. This narrative needs to change. Sooner the better.
Air Pollution that we spoke about in preceding paragraphs along with water pollution, noise pollution etc. leading to environment pollution is something we have known and read about in our schools. We can see and feel the impact of such pollution on our lives. Hence, we can initiate steps to minimise these effects. Mind you, pollution owes its early recognition as a threat to human lives to industrial revolution that started in 18th century. Industrial pollution (environment pollution) was / is viewed as a by-product of industrial revolution.
Today, we are in the middle of information revolution that started towards the end of 20th century. We are in the age of information where information is power. Internet and internet of things have and are impacting our lives like never before. We can draw a similar parallel with industrial revolution, yes, we have information pollution too! Equally damaging and life threatening if not more.
Information pollution is the adverse effect of information revolution. It is excess of information, an overload which is primarily incorrect (or incomplete), inconsistent and irrelevant. Information pollution leads to decision paralysis for an individual or an organisation or a society or a country at large.
It is even more dangerous because it is usually human induced with a purpose which is mainly evil and targeted against some individual or group of people or society. The worse part of information pollution is, unlike environment pollution, we usually are not able to see side-effects until it contaminates our information or thoughts or decision completely. We realise it mostly, if at all, when the damage is done.
Fake news is one of the recent and critical examples of information contamination. A report by Microsoft, covering 22 countries, which came out early this year states as many as 64 percent of the Indians surveyed have encountered fake news. The survey reported the global average at 57 per cent. What was worrisome is survey reported a sharp 9 percentage points increase in family and friends spreading online risks to 29 percent.
On the other extreme is a not so dangerous but equally menacing information clutter – excessive usage of words and unnecessary detailing. Whether, it’s an official mail or a casual whatsapp forward, every extra word adds on to the useless clutter. It dilutes the communication and usually leads to missing the important information in the process.
It is important to have a clean and clear environment. Information like air, water, soil etc is an important resource for us and we must use it cautiously and effectively to our benefit, exercising relevant checks on it to stop from getting polluted. As an individual or an organisation, we must practice communicating more by saying less. We should follow some restraint in what we are writing and sharing and verifying like what and how we use our resources to check environment pollution. Information literacy should be taken up seriously.