Nine Principles of Personal Information Hygiene

Nine Principles of Personal Information Hygiene

Even a person with access to insider information of national importance does critical thinking and adequately perceives reality; may lose mental balance when plunging into murky waters.

In today’s world, information security is an issue not only for companies and countries but also for each of us. However, not so much in the repelling information attacks but in the protection against the manipulative influences of certain components of the media space.

The information landscape has changed dramatically. A sign of the recent times is the mayhem of words, namely:

  • Increasing number of information sources due to popular platforms in social networks and new online media.
  • Decreasing quality of information due to extremely high subjectivity of the content and the share of evaluative judgments, lack of double/triple check of information reliability.
  • Substitution of concepts, preference for unbalanced messages saturated with ideologues.

Even a person with access to insider information of national importance does critical thinking and adequately perceives reality; may lose mental balance when plunging into murky waters. That is, the new, not the most pleasant, but inevitable communication reality requires new skills sets as the complete rejection of mass media is a somewhat strange approach, which does not contribute to the personal effectiveness of most socially integrated citizens. Of course, you can proudly declare, “I have not watched TV for 10 years,” and watch YouTube videos at the same time, which are the quintessence of TV propaganda, but this is hardly honest. A much more productive strategy is to develop an ecological and hygienic system of information exchange with the outside world.

Let’s start with the fact that mass media (both traditional and so-called new media) perform traditional informational functions. Thanks to them, people:

  • Function 1. Receive information about new events.
  • Function 2. Have fun.
  • Function 3. Try to understand their place in the world.
  • Function 4. Can learn about socially approved and disapproved patterns of behaviour.

Based on this, we can formulate personal information security principles. We can make even more than nine but this will slightly blur the essence of the problem. Therefore, let’s limit to the following list:

  1. Limit (at least on a conscious level) the significant roles of mass media to functions 1 and 2 only. In today’s world, you should not rely on mass media from the point of view of self-identification and social integration-interaction. Ideologemes and mythologemes are too unreliable and misleading to take as a guide to action.
  2. Try to understand who determines the editorial policy of the mass media you trust. And what are the economic and political (and possibly religious) interests of this subject.
  3. After receiving any information, try to understand who stands behind it, what interests they are pursuing and how much this information can affect your future.
  4. If the information seemed significant for the future, look at several of its interpretations. Preferably, in sources with different beneficiaries and different editorial policies. Information triangulation is the key to personal information security.
  5. If the information is questionable, do not share it unless you discuss it with competent people for verification. Because 1) the noosphere is littered with the waste of human thought; 2) we never know what consequence the things we say might bring about; 3) the backfire is notable for the fact that by participating in the promotion of a malicious meme, we thereby further deteriorate the information ecology of our area of residence and receive the corresponding feedback.
  6. Count to 100 before becoming an information virus carrier. In most cases, modern manipulations of public consciousness are calculated on the reflexive desire of a person to share the news. That is, to an instant considered reaction, and not to a considered and critical thinking. So, frustrate the manipulators – think before you click, share, etc.
  7. Be wary of the achievements of literature and art of our troubled times. Ideologemes are best implemented precisely in this format.
  8. Look for historical analogies to what is happening. Of course, history is the same propaganda or a propaganda reflection. However, triangulating information can provide you with interesting and useful results.
  9. Read good books written by authors who do critical thinking and are not ideologically involved. It is a great antidote.

Any ruling elite is interested in cultivating a false consciousness in the target audiences of informational influence – a favourable image of social reality. With goals far from the well-being of the representatives of these audiences. Therefore, the advice is the same – protect yourself.

Focus 2017