Information vs Junk

Me and this very intelligent friend I will call Thando had a media-related conversation because we are in a media JV and we can dissect these nuances without fear of contradiction. We tried to understand the language of media buyers who claim that the reason many folks don't read newspapers, magazines and other forms of digital and electronic media was due to information overload.

They say that from Bushbuckridge to Nelspruit there are 15 billboards which when you drive through you will definitely read through. Just driving in your car you've already come across more than 500 words. This does not include the numberplates you'll passively read. Imagine Ben Schoeman Highway between Pretoria and Johannesburg through Midrand, anyone should get an honorary degree by just completing the 50 kilometres stretch.

Then they allege that the overload creates a handicap that when it's time to read that Jackie Selebi has been given leave you're already suffering from information overload. Thus, that magazine that carries the Bentley advert to entice you (LSM 7-11) to buy will not be read, which means the ad will not be seen which means Bently spent money on a campaign that never reached its target market. The ad will end up as a beautification picture inside the plastic cover of some Grade 5's text book who's not even LSMed.

But then Thando argued that there's nothing called information overload. If you 'want' to read something you will read. If you are curious enough you will go out for information regardless of the passive consumption of junk that characterises the information age. We always read Mail&Guardian and Sunday Times and City Press, don't we?

Information comes from inform (telling [whispering in your ear] you something you don't yet know) and the process of telling you things you don't know is called inform (ation). There's no way you will shy away from information about how to build your own river-operated-submarine. No way you will ignore stories about how to finance a R3million crib in The Rest out of that R1000 salary. Then what is it that we ignore? Junk.

I will not read a story about how to board a taxi from Nelspruit to Johannesburg. Nor will I read about how to braai beef and boerewors. Neither will I read about how to send a text message. Why are we not buying maps for the cities we live in? Because there's nothing new there. But surprise surprise, someone will pay R99 for that map you don't even want.

What is called information overload is actually Junkation overload. You are so fed up with junk that you end up just ignoring it to save space in your brain for things more important - like pornography. The same way you throw away some letters you get at the post office before even opening them while some get hurriedly opened. So, next time they tell you about information overload, tell them Kasiekulture has just coined a new one - junkation (dissemination of junk) overload.

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