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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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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.

  • 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 ...

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.

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