We Are Living in the Era of Information Overload, And It’s Impacting Our Health
At some point in the not so distant past, people arguably led simpler lives. They had access to a steady source of information, through mediums like a daily newspaper or a collection of books. They may have read newspapers in the morning, or tuned into the radio in the afternoon. In all cases, consuming information was not a central theme in the days of most people. Fast forward to today, we can argue that consuming information has become a central theme for many of us.
According to research conducted by the International Data Corporation, 80% of people check their smartphones within the first 15 minutes of waking up. If the very first thing we wake up to is information, not the natural world, or other humans, or even ourselves, but pure information, then we’re likely suffering from information overload. A number of research studies suggest that information overload has a negative impact on our health. It can cause brain fatigue, stress, decrease our capacity to focus on important tasks, and lead to indecision.
The author of “The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload” Daniel Levitin, elaborately describes the neuroscience behind this modern problem. The brain is a complex organ that works in specific ways. According to Levitin, the constant switch between checking our phones and our emails, and doing other tasks leads to distraction and inefficiency because our brains are naturally not well equipped to handle multi-tasking. And the problem is even worse because we are juggling social media with other tasks. The dopamine fix we get from clicking on new notifications leads to distraction because it urges us to continuously check our phones.
As a woman belonging to this era, I am experiencing the effects of information overload quite acutely. I struggle everyday to continuously focus on a task without feeling an urge to check if I have a new message, or an e-mail. Or the urge to mindlessly scroll through Instagram and Facebook. I am even suspecting that a significant part of my internal restlessness may be connected to information overload from social media. For many of us, the urge to check social media is difficult to resist, which not only exhausts our brains, but can also lead to feelings of guilt knowing…