Information overload
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Information Overload: Let's Understand And Tackle It

June 17, 2021

What Is Information Overload?

Information overload is presenting an enormous amount of irrelevant data to the users that leave them confused and unable to reach any decision. It is when the input of information exceeds the processing capacity.

The concept of information overload has been around since the times of the Renaissance but the advancement in information technology has brought us more information compared to any other period in history. This is the most serious problem in today's information-driven society.

The more crucial this problem is, the more it's been overlooked. The present society is mainly run by information and here the main problem lies in the overexposure and excessive input of information and data into the digital world, leading to an unnecessary explosion of information. More information is out there on the internet compared to what is required in actuality.

We may often find ourselves overwhelmed with the amount of content that has been thrown onto us every day. The internet today is sharing an abundance of content in textual, video, graphical, sound and pictorial format tirelessly over different social media platforms. People are constantly consuming content through electronic and print media as well; TV, newspaper, radio, magazines etc being some of the examples in particular. But when it comes to the explosion of information, social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, YouTube etc remain at the top. This list is just never-ending.

Hundreds of social media apps can be found in Google Playstore, with the addition of newer platforms like Clubhouse which provides a more personal level experience of sharing information among the users in audio format.

And several apps keep on emerging in the market almost every day and this is only adding up to the problem of information overload. We consume more information than what our brain can actually process. This has led to serious anxiety and decision-making issues.

The Affect On Us

The digital world and the internet have become crucial for the functioning of society and the readily abundant availability of information at our fingertips is generally seen as a positive force.  However, there are many psychological studies that prove that the human brain has a very limited capacity to store current information.

In such cases, overload of information will make the human mind confused and unsure, leading to poorer decision-making capacity and memory loss.

Information overload may affect our mental health as well. The gap between the information that is perceived and that which is understood can result in anxiety and stress, which can leave people feeling burdened or overwhelmed. People are actually in a hurry to consume every piece of information out there without filtering out the beneficial information among the rest. This can prove to be compromising in terms of the quality of productivity and decision-making ability of the users. The rapid rise of apps and unlimited wireless access has led to oversharing of information and there is no proper mechanism to filter out the important information and dump the rest.

Apart from affecting our mental health and decision-making ability, information overload can also hamper our attention span as well. The amount of time that we spend on social media or the internet consuming information can have a lasting impact on us.

According to reports, last year people spent an average of three hours on social media in a day globally. Now the ongoing pandemic has made us more dependent on our phones or laptops for academic and work-related purpose and thus we are exposed to newer information every other minute.

Individuals, especially the youth, are seen getting addicted to constantly checking their phones for newer notifications. With so many apps around, they remain distracted and their attention is divided among different platforms on the internet resulting in no productive use of the information consumed. Jumping between different apps to get all the latest news and information and trying to cope up with everything that is going on in the world can be very intimidating at times and can cause content fatigue. Besides, the addiction to keeping ourselves up-to-date with as much information as possible can disturb our sleeping pattern and cause insomnia.

Solution To Information Overload

More information leads to more confusion. Although we have access to thousands and millions of "information sources" on the web, everything cannot add value to our work and thus we need to narrow down and prioritise the important pieces of information.

It is okay to ignore some information and not be up-to-date with everything that is going on on the Internet. We can skip some news and not spend our entire day consuming irrelevant information.

Information overload by social media can be monitored by regulating our screen time. Social media leads to self-comparison and that can highly affect our self-esteem. What we can do is stop comparing ourselves with everyone's life on Instagram or Facebook and focus more on self-development. We should avoid accounts that add no value to our life.

We can also reduce multitasking as it leaves us feeling exhausted and anxious. We should also focus on one thing at a time and try to limit the distraction of social media. Taking breaks from time to time in between work or taking a break from social media can help to calm the mind and increase productivity.

Our conscious mind is capable of paying attention to a maximum of four things at once and exceeding that number may lead to poorer judgments. Information overload cannot completely vanish from the present-day scenario, however, we can take these baby steps to start vanquishing through this outburst.

Digital minimalism is a way ahead and we should control our digital space.

ALSO READ | Now, Get COVID-Related Information On Google Maps

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