Hey, Millenials! You are suffering from Information Overload
As David Bach says, “Knowledge without action cost money”
True, I am one of those 600 million Millennials who is trying to shape the economy in some way or the other. I also belong to the time when the World Wide Web was born, although I am few years elder to it. And, I have seen how information sneaks into our lives, becoming an indispensable commodity and making us feel like a handicapped. Especially, if one of those days when we fail to have access because of a power cut or failed server.
Isn’t it sad? Being aggressively dependent with no respite other than switching on the device and opening the world of massive, outrageous information.
This isn’t about Big Data. That’s a problem best solved by the data scientists. I am concerned about the absorption of so much information, where is it taking us and how far, let alone its humongous quality which is a story for another day. My worry lies, whether we secure ourselves with authentic, useful knowledge or just feeding our brains to an endless flow of details.
Are we becoming smarter or just becoming some pretentious fools?
I don’t know if I am being realistic or simply paranoid. But, I am annoyed at times with so many instructions ‘what to do’, ‘when to do’, ‘why to do’ being available everywhere especially at the click of my mouse. Basically, such information irks me.
The search engine is right there. You type as per your whim, you press enter before your brain can even receive the instruction because this has become a habit that is now deeply ingrained. And, mindlessly we click what suits our vision, and whatever can be absorbed as per our intellectual capacity. We go on and on. We feel accomplished having read much. Not forgetting to give a quick massage to our ego, we are so well-read now.
Here is exactly what troubles me. The information doesn’t annoy me, because that’s what I was looking for in the first place, see? But, the inability to access the ‘right’ information, what is true and what is untrue. I fail to discern and that bothers me.
As much as I agree the accessibility could be a boon, I am not too sure how sooner such abundance might turn out to be a bane for us. Well, curiosity can lead us to insightful stuff, we are now 10X more knowledgeable than what we were a month back.
But, here is the big picture. In the long run, how much this generosity can help me?
Today, as I was skimming through the pages of The New Yorker, I bumped into an interesting title ‘The Deadpool phenomenon and the American male’. Had no idea about the phenomenon other than the word ‘Deadpool’ that rang a bell. Sounds like the name of a recent movie. Anyway, as I was scrolling down, reading with much curiosity, I realized that I am wasting my time.
First, I was actually wasting my time by reading about a stuff that has no relevance to my daily life. Even if you tell me that it was good to know about the movie. Still, it doesn’t make sense to me. I didn’t click with that intention in my mind. To neither understand the intricacies of the plot, nor the protagonist. I don’t care who Deadpool is and what it does to a human being. After all, I somehow couldn’t get the crux of that article.
Second, there was no relevance to what I read and what I thought I would read. There was some incoherence and that affected me.
At the end of the day, my activity should yield results. What I received was zero value in return.
But, I am not here to criticize about that article. That’s not my expertise. Not that the particular article would be irrelevant to the rest of the world. To some, it might be entertaining, to some it could be useful.
I simply felt that I was lost and overwhelmed by so many articles that I couldn’t decide wisely the topic I really wanted to read. My brain was attracted to the cleverly curated attractive topic. That’s the smartness of the writer, but my dumbness to click without giving a ‘second/s’ thought.
The only thing I probably learned was one new word, maybe I now know who Ryan Reynolds is. Ah, everyone knows about Ryan Reynolds. Else, it’s a shame. Hah!
There is an undercurrent at the moment. The swell will happen and soon it will engulf most of us, feeling betrayed, drained and deprived of the real knowledge. Unless we realize that we have to be wiser with our choices, identify the signal and the noise, filter out the nonsense and irrelevant. Maybe we should think twice before we feed our hungry brains with the same rut.
Call to action
I don’t know if I sound too critical about its omnipresence, but I don’t want to do further damage. Before it’s too late I must take a step back, introspect my ability to differentiate between the good knowledge and the ugly one and take some necessary actions.
So, here are few pointers for me:
1. I will continue visiting The New Yorker, but I will think thrice before clicking on a heading. I will ask myself if I really need to know about it.
2. Learning to distinguish useful information from the jazzy topic. I should know what is more valuable, and not what is always interesting.
Valuable > Interesting
3. Choosing a topic that can add productivity to my life. I would be rather inclined toward learning the effects of meditation instead of the political hullabaloo. Maybe politics matter. At least this day, adding value to my life is more important.
4. Being selective about my time. How much time I would devote myself to accumulate the information.
5. Most importantly, how much of that knowledge is actionable. That matters.
At the end of the day, sitting with a tab on your hand and browsing through the load isn’t going to help you no matter how much productive it looks. The action must be taken.