We’ve all been told at some point in our lives not to anticipate, hope, or love too much since too much of anything makes us miserable when our expectations aren’t met. The concept of information overload is based on the same concept; ‘infobesity’ if you may call it, is a combination of two words ‘information’ and ‘obesity’, meaning having or seeking too much information than your brain can handle.
A fun fact: “If you read the internet 24 hours a day, seven days a week, it will take you an average of 57 thousand years to read everything on the internet”. So you do understand you cannot possibly read everything in your lifetime, right?
The term ‘information overload’ was coined by Bertram Gross, let’s look at what he had to say on the subject, “information overload occurs when the amount of input to a system exceeds its processing capacity. Decision-makers have fairly limited cognitive processing capacity. Consequently, when information overload occurs, a reduction in decision quality will likely occur”. Information overload has been an issue since the dawn of time, but with the advent of low-cost technologies and accessible internet, the pace has accelerated more than ever before. As appealing as the information on the internet is, they are just as much a trap. The trick is to understand you would still fit in if you don’t know a lot, and knowing too much wouldn’t make you a genius, but what you do with the sufficient information you have is what counts. Every day an innumerable amount of information is added to the already vast storage of information on the internet, some are apt and some are just an extended version of the truth and some are just rumors or lies, and it’s difficult to find out the one that stands the most authentic. You do understand the people uploading that information are just people like us, with different sets of perceptions and ideas of the world, right? And you do understand that going through everything would only make you confused and distracted and would just affect your decision-making? And that it is only so much your brain can handle? If you do, let’s proceed to some of the major causes of ‘Information overload’:
•The need to fit in: We humans are members of society, and we strive to fit in every day. However, the persistent desire to know more than you can comprehend or absorb to emerge as the all-knowing or to compete has an impact on your ability to understand. We tend to get more focused on the quantity of information rather than the quality.
•Easy access to the internet: In the present era, easy access to the internet has accelerated information overload. An enormous amount of information is available on the internet on any given subject, and the fear of missing out on something important drives us to go through as much as we can.
•Availability of contradictory and inconsistent information on the internet: when we skim through diverse information on the same issue, we become confused when we come across contradicting ideas, making it difficult for us to stick to one thought, and make important judgments.
Some of the ways we can control ‘information overload’ are as follows:
•Know that it’s alright to not read everything on the internet – The internet is a vast place, and as vast as its trap. Recognize that it’s perfectly acceptable to not go over every detail and become perplexed.
•Early guidance- Teachers providing early assistance to pupils on how to use the internet efficiently will make them more attentive and conscious.
•Force yourself to do something else with your time- Instead of looking through every irrelevant piece of information available on the internet, read a book, improve your ability, or return to your passion.
•Keep track of how much time you spend in front of the screen- By keeping track of your screen time you can avoid spending too much time in front of it and can instead return to the physical world.
At last, it all comes down to your will and understanding of the fact that you can not possibly go through all the information available on the internet, and it’s okay to not know everything.