Information overload is a problem of modern times. People started sharing information on the internet to help people and to help people in making decisions.
However, it did not work as it was expected to work. The excessive information induced stress in the people and made it even more difficult for them to make decisions both at the workplace as well as in personal life.
The term “Information Overload” came into limelight when Alvin Toffler, an American writer, and futurist mentioned it in his book “Future Shock” in 1970. However, the term was initially introduced by Bertram Gross in 1964.
Information Overload Definition
When the information input in the computer system is more than the processing capacity of the computer, then the state of information overload takes place. When applied to humans, the quality of decision making reduces because of the limited cognitive capacity of decision-makers.
Nowadays, information overload is not only a problem of wealthy people, but it has become a common problem with almost everyone. A various platform such as social media, television, email, newspapers, webpages floods us with information every single second of our day.
Causes of Information Overload
The phrase “information Overload” can also be expressed as Information anxiety, infobesity, intoxication, and information explosion. The common meaning of all these terms is the abundance of information.
If you want to do a practice to learn and to learn about the different causes of information overload, then open your phone and log into your Facebook account and you will see at least 50-100 articles and news posts in your news feeds of Facebook.
Did you just do that? And now come back to this article and read ahead to learn more about the causes of information overload in this section.
#1 Modern Journalism
Gone are the days when a news reporter used to read news headlines in the evening on radio and gone are the days when people waited for a daily newspaper to read the news while sipping their hot tea in the morning.
Nowadays, because of the internet news are being produced every single second of the day and made viral so that it can reach more and more people in a short period.
The same news is being shared millions of times, and this is done to get a competitive edge in the news reporting. Hence, modern journalism is one of the main causes of information overload.
Modern Journalism is not only responsible for share the same information over and over on the internet. However, there are other platforms such as television, radio, RSS feeds, mobile phones, emails, social media, etc. which are also responsible for causing information overload.
For example, when you will enter cancer in Google search engine, you will get hundreds of webpage results on cancer and the information from that webpages will make you believe that you might have cancer too. Excessive information from Google has made it difficult for the doctor to cure their patients, as every other person has become a doctor by reading information online.
#3 Lack of methodologies to evaluate the authenticity of the information
The sad reality of modern times is that we have hundreds of platform to get the information, but there is no method or platform to validate the authenticity of the information.
The problem of information overload can be tackled up to some extent if people can validate what they are reading before retaining it and sharing it with others.
#4 The abundance of historical information
On one hand, we can consider ourselves fortune that we can access information which is hundreds of years old by just entering the keywords in the search engine or just by getting the book from the library and on the other hand, the same thing has become curse for us as the abundance of this information is stressing us and causing us a lot of problems.
This problem has become prevalent in the past a few decades with the introduction of social media and high-speed internet. In the old times, only the authorized and professional news reporters were responsible for sharing the information with the public.
But in the present time, with the high-quality phone cameras and the accessibility to high-speed internet has made every third person on the street a news reporter.
This not only created information overload but also created an abundance of inaccurate and baseless information and the same information is copied and share over and over again in a different form without checking the validity of the platform.
How information overload Affects us?
It is a common tendency for people to search for everything online before they make a decision. Whether it is the decision to go vegan, or it is a decision to choose the university to do your masters. The more you will read, and the more you will watch videos, you will always find yourself lagging as there is infinite information on a single topic.
Consequently, you convince yourself to read more articles and watch more videos because of the FOMO factor (FOMO is Fear of Missing Out). Even though you are putting so many precious hours of your life, but you are reaching nowhere. As you have made a little or almost no action to achieve what you wanted to achieve.
How to avoid information overload?
Now you know that all the information that you are constantly absorbing from different platforms is not good for you. What should you do to save yourself from getting overloaded with this excessive information?
In this, you will learn how you can avoid excessive information and start to achieve more so that you can make a difference in your life.
#1 Limit the platforms to receive information:
In the digital world, there are thousands of platforms from where you can get information such as social media, newspapers, television, radio, mobile apps, etc. it is not necessary that you will need to grab information from every single source as most of the sources are not reliable.
Choose platforms that you can rely on, and that will provide you authentic and accurate information.
#2 Adopt Old-fashioned methods:
However, this might seem little stupid, but it can be very effective if you want to be free of information overload. have you realized that our parents lived a better and peaceful life even when they don’t have access to all the sources that you have today? And still, they got all the information that they were required too without going crazy like us.
Therefore, opting old -fashioned methods might help you to get rid of information overload.
#3 Learn to avoid unnecessary information:
Not all the information that you are getting is helpful and important for you. For example, not all the articles in a newspaper are worth reading. Ask yourself whether this information is helpful for you in any way or can it help you to take immediate actions.
If your answer to these questions is no then trying to control your whim and skip that information, it will not only keep you sane but will also help you to save your precious time.
That time you can use to learn about something new or to take some productive actions that will take you close to your dream.
#4 Unplug yourself once in a while:
Nobody can deny the importance you staying up-to-date and being ahead in the game. But sometimes it becomes so exhausting that you don’t leave with the energy to use that information to do something productive.
Therefore, it becomes necessary to take a break once in a while and empty your mind so that it can get recharge to consume useful and important information and can retain it for a long time.
#5 Be aware of over-dosing:
Now think about the medicines, every pill that you consume to keep your body problem-free has a Minimum Effective Dose (MED), and if you consume that medicines beyond its MED, then you will not get any positive effects but only negative effects. Same goes with the information.
Learn the information which is important and necessary for you to reach your goal and all other information that you will consume after the Minimum Effective Dose limit is of no use for you.
#6 Seek quality of information rather than the quantity of information:
The phrase “less is more” is quite true when it comes to information. Rather than getting attracted to huge information, learn to seek quality information. Quality information will take less time to consume, keep you sane, and will be effective to help you to achieve your goals.
For example, a small, precise, and to the point report is better than a long report. If you are a manager, you can give instructions to your employees to prepare reports by focusing on the quality of information rather than the quantity.