When a Wealth of Information Becomes Too Much
Information overload, a concept that was introduced as early as the 1960’s, is more relevant now than ever. As the amount of information available increases, the likelihood of experiencing an information overload also increases. During an information overload, you are overexposed to a stream of information. This greatly affects your ability to reason and make rational decisions.
While providing a wealth of information within your content can be valuable to your readers, there is a point where you reach information overload and that can lead to losing your audience.
The Internet’s Effect
The Internet has caused the creation, exchange, and consumption of information to grow exponentially in the last few decades. Anyone with Internet access can make their own content, and make it readily available to anyone else, if they use the right tools.
With faster download speeds also comes increased consumption of information. Large amounts of information are being copied and transmitted constantly. Because the information is so widely available, some of it may be inaccurate or contradictory.
Having conflicting forms of information may be one cause of information overload. Without the ability to distinguish correct data, it may be difficult to make a rational decision, or to take a reasonable stance on an issue. Conversely, if there is no connection within an array of information, it may be difficult to understand and process this data.
The existence of so many forms of information-gathering technology may have a negative effect on our ability to make logical and well calculated decisions. Soon enough, everything from your phone to your dishwasher will be connected to the Internet. If we are constantly receiving data from every aspect of our life, information overload may become a significant problem.
Where Information Overload Occurs
The most common form of information overload happens in people’s e-mail accounts. People who receive a lot of “spam” mail may not be able to keep up with important e-mails. Even this ordinary form of information overload may cause decreased retention of information, as well as a diminished long-term memory capacity.
Information overload can also be caused by the constant reception of information via cell phone, e-mail, web pages, instant messengers, eReaders, television, and radio, among other things. People in the professional world may experience an information overload on a daily basis, especially if they have a digitally based business. This can cause a decrease in productivity and efficiency in the workplace and a decrease in quality of life.
Preventing Information Overload
We are not helpless from the overbearing presence of information overload. Managing the amount of information you receive and process may significantly decrease your likelihood of overloading on this information. You may want to focus data that you will find particularly useful and ignore or remove any information that would serve no practical purpose. This will help you eliminate any conflict of information that you may encounter.
Even something as simple as using a printer may be an effective way to combat information overload. Reading on your computer screen may cause your stress levels to reach unnecessary heights. Your computer is always doing something else while you may be reading an e-mail or memo. If you print out electronic information, it may be easier for your brain to process it.
You may want to not only simplify the flow of information within your workplace, but perhaps within your personal life as well. You may want to spread out your different outlets for information. Instead of spending hours on the Internet or watching TV, you could start a hobby that does not involve anything electronic. Whether it is reading, riding a bike, or building things out of clay, a break from the constant stream of information can reduce any data-induced stress that you may be experiencing.