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Can we escape from information overload?

https://www.1843magazine.com/features/can-we-escape-from-information-overload

1843magazine.com

Can we escape from information overload?
We live in an age of information overload. So what happens when you unplug your life? Tom Lamont finds out

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Bottomless visual

Bottomless visual

The world in the 21st century is the same it used to be. It smells about the same, sound pollution is pretty stable. But the spill of information and distraction that comes to our vision has grown ceaselessly for two decades, with no sign of slowing down.

Our brains tend to lean heavily on the visual and prioritize sight over the other four senses.

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Information overload

  • Information overload was a term coined in the mid-1960s by Bertram Gross, a social scientist.
  • In 1970, writer Alvin Toffler popularized the idea of information overload as part of a set of predictions about eventual dependence on technology.
  • Another set of academics wrote that information overload occurs when the amount of input exceeds its processing capacity.
  • A 2011 study found that on a typical day, Americans were taking in five times as much information as they had done 15 years earlier.
  • A 2019 study identified that our attention span is shrinking, probably because of digital overload.

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Technology pushed too much

It is probably too late to restore our attention span to that of our grandparents. After a decade of smartphone use and social media, the harm is perhaps irreversible.

Part of the problem in this age of overload is the constant insistence of notifications that seeks our immediate attention. When the body jumps to attention and for nothing of particular worth, it can be confusing.

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Find a balance

When we temporarily remove ourselves from information overload, our other senses start to sharpen. Hearing improves as well as smell and touch. We can think clearer. It can feel addictive to want to cut ties with visual overload.

But removing yourself from information can be alarming. While it may feel good for a while, it also leads to disorientation. Without it, you can't see the confusion; with it, you can't see the simplicity.

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