Information Infestation? Call the Data Exterminators!
By John Hershey

As the parent of two young boys, I don't seem to have quite enough time to keep up with all the current events. Perhaps you feel the same way. That's why I want to tell you about an article I remember from the last time I read a newspaper. It was several years ago, just before the birth of my first child.

Remember back then, when all those hijinks were happening down at Enron? I was reminded of it recently because, as a major shareholder in the defunct energy giant, I received a settlement offer in the bankruptcy case. I was very excited about recouping some of my losses until I realized that my share of the settlement would amount to less than the cost of the postage stamp to send in my form.

But I digress!

During all that controversy about the company and its auditors shredding the phony accounting records, I came across a personal management tool so valuable that I remember it to this day. In my articles I generally avoid providing useful and relevant parenting information, but this could be such a valuable resource for parents that I simply must share it with you. It's a website -- -- brought to you by your friends at the National Association for Information Destruction (NAID).

(Mr. Orwell, Mr. George Orwell, please come to a white courtesy telephone.)

Here's how the website describes this group:

"NAID is the international trade association for companies providing information destruction services. NAID's mission is to promote the information destruction industry and the standards and ethics of its member companies."

With all the negative publicity about Enron and Arthur Andersen shredding documents, NAID is out there taking the lead in reminding us of all the benefits of destroying information. Check out the press release on its website entitled "Shredding is Good!"

It tells us all about how shredding helps responsible businesses fulfill their patriotic duty to keep information away from "dumpster diving" competitors and identity thieves. Not to mention, I might add, nosy auditors (Unless, of course, your auditors are the ones shredding your documents for you!).

But the more you think about it, you realize that the folks at NAID are being modest. Getting rid of sensitive documents is only one benefit of "information destruction." Don't you often feel overwhelmed by too much information? The constant barrage of information on TV, radio, newspapers, magazines and cereal boxes is sometimes more than we can cope with.

And the Internet is a totally unmanageable torrent of information. How can we know which information is important? We can't -- there's just too much of it and not enough time to sort it out. To demonstrate this, I asked an Internet search engine to find information on several topics, chosen at random from a recently published list of words that make twelve-year-olds giggle:

titular archbishopric (225 hits)

pu-pu platter (1,400 hits)

ball-peen hammer (5,970 hits)

mastication (17,900 hits)

Lake Titicaca (24,300 hits)

penal system (236,000 hits)

moist (a whopping 1,090,000 hits!)


Information is proliferating out of control. It is like a noxious weed, the leafy spurge (22,200 hits) of the twenty-first century. Let's face it: Information is ruining our lives.

What can save us from drowning in a sea of knowledge? Only the dogged efforts of the 600-odd member companies of the National Association for Information Destruction.

Please support these visionaries. With your help, we can move toward the ultimate goal: To eradicate information from the face of the earth.

I know change can be scary. It's hard to imagine life without information. But trust me -- people who are not burdened by information can live happily and become quite successful. How do I know? Two words: Rush Limbaugh.

You'll be amazed at how easy it is to live your daily life, have conversations, form opinions and make decisions when you're not constantly distracted by information.

I know what you're thinking: There's so much information around, it would take forever to destroy it all. Not to worry! Just call your friendly neighborhood NAID member company. My personal favorite from the website is Shredco. That's really its name! "Shredco mobile shredding units can destroy up to 8,000 pounds of material per hour. . . .There is no need to sort or prepare files; our shredder will easily grind file folders, paper clips and metal fasteners. We can also shred computer disks and tapes, CDs, video tapes, film, ribbons, X-rays and mylar."

Other items that can be shredded at no extra charge include: employees' retirement plans, the value of the company's stock, and the public's faith in de-regulation.

Call today!


John Hershey is a dad, writer and attorney in Denver. You can read more of his humor columns at

Copyright 2003 by John Hershey. All rights reserved.



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