Monthly Archives: January 2011

Information Overload

I’m suffering from information overload. Today, I determined which sources of media and information are vying for my attention . Here’s the quick list I came up with:

  • Google Reader
  • 100+ emails/day
  • GChat (often three conversations at a time)
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Phone calls/texts

Notes: Google Reader is a problem for me. I thought that one central location to read all of my favorite blogs would simplify my consumption. However, I now follow two news sources that often release 50+ posts per day — it’s too much. TV is noticeably absent from my list. Since I consume most all of my media through the internet, I only pay for basic cable.

It comes down to this: At some point, the wealth of information on the internet ceases to be useful and becomes overwhelming. It’s different for everyone, but I can now say that I’ve reached that point.

In response, I’ve taken some steps to filter the vast amount of information I consume. For example, I’ve unfollowed several Twitter feeds. When I began following them I didn’t realize that, more than any other media source, Twitter produces a lot of noise. Most tweets are marginally relevant and uninteresting to me.

On Facebook, I discovered a truly magical feature — mouse over any News Feed update and an X will appear in the top right corner. Click “Hide all by _____”. You’ll be freed instantly from that person’s incessant political ramblings, their daily personal crises, and any other updates that call into question their mental health.

The internet age has transformed us in to hyper-consumers with significantly reduced attention spans. Sadly, we’ve begun to treat all information as data to breeze through quickly. The subconscious tells us, “We better get going, there’s always more where that came from!” It takes a conscious decision to step back and determine whether or not our consumption is worth it or not. How do you define “worth it”? I’m going to leave it up to you.

Ramit summed it up nicely: “It’s so easy to consume. It’s much harder to produce something.” Now that I’ve tackled consumption, how can I step up production?