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Our Story Begins: Information Overload

mouse with social media signs illustration

Our Story Begins:
Information Overload


What messages are your kids getting?

This crossed my mind when my son started asking me questions today about Donald Trump. The guy’s running for president, so his name comes up all the time.

I do mean all…the…time!

Growing up I remember news stories and television specials and newspapers (you know, that stuff made from ground up trees, printed and put on your doorstep every day? No? Okay, that thing you get on your iPad each morning) that talked about how kids were inundated and influenced by commercialism.

I would bet the parents of that generation could never have thought about the inundation of information that we have today.

So this morning I thought I’d just look at what social media, internet news aggregators and the networks all decided to pummel us with today.

CNN had multiple segments on the Donald Trump “macho” identity. I’m not joking, by the way.

Facebook went crazy on something called “Thigh-brows.” I don’t even want to lower your IQ’s by telling you what that is. I thought “thigh gap” was stupid.

Twitter? At first I was encouraged because South Carolina’s floods were top of mind…until they weren’t and Nicki Minaj commenting on a “Drake and Meek Mill Beef” was trending.

Donald Trump comes out and defends his opponent, Ben Carson, for comments about the shooting in Oregon.

Russia bombs Syria. Okay…that one was one I had in a news feed, actual news. Sorry. Back to the popular stuff:

Rihanna says she thought she could change Chris Brown and that Rachel Dolezal – the white woman claiming she “identifies as black” – isn’t so bad. Again. Not joking.

Related: The GEM Debate: Race, Rachel Dolezal, and why it matters

Nicki Minaj telling Miley Cyrus “if you want to enjoy our culture you should also want to know what affects us.” Wait . . . that one actually made some sense.

Lest you think only women get socially exploited:
“What the ‘perfect man’ looks like to both men and women” was one, and then my favorite: “which is better, Ryan Gosling or Ryan Reynolds?”

Then the Buzzfeed effect hit. They did have a piece about gun legislation at the top of their page.
Then the list degenerated:
“Can we guess how big your boobs are?” (Written by a woman, by the way)
13 Everyday things that are really weird when you think about them”
“We gave up masturbation for a month and it completely changed us”
“20 signs that definitely have a hilarious story behind them”
“22 reasons to be grateful you’re single” – I’m single. Not particularly grateful, though I didn’t read the list.

Like the frustrated parents in my youth, there’s no stopping the advertising and information juggernaut. We all have phones. We have 1,500 channels blaring Donald Trump yelling at Fiorina yelling at Clinton yelling at Biden yelling at Bernie Sanders. We have the internet pandering to body-shaming lowest common denominators.

I tell my kids that Trump is blustering because he gets press and attention from it, which is true. Is he smart? Most definitely. Is he giving any kind of real platform? I really can’t say it’s too hard to hear it over the wind blowing from the political shouting from all camps. He certainly made politics interesting, I tell my kids.

Yet this week my kids saw that I got to interview a rocket scientist and an astronaut about the movie “The Martian“and in-between thigh-brows and crazy Buzzfeed quizzes, they suddenly think science is pretty cool.

So when Kim Kardashian’s headline that “pregnancy was the worst experience ever” comes up I roll my eyes, not because I have any idea what it’s like to be pregnant. I had the worst experience ever when I had to drive home from a hospital and tell my children that they won’t see their mother again after she passed away. I’m thinking giving life as opposed to watching it go away is never going to be quite as bad.

So my final message to my kids: the information is really only as good as its source. Unfortunately there are too many sources today.

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