Everyone on Twitter has been boo-hooing about Google Reader. For me, it brought back memories of chaos. I attribute my first FOMO sensation on the internet to Google Reader.
At first, it seemed perfect — the answer to all our prayers. Every post from every blog/website you cared enough to add, all in one place. What could go wrong?
Every post I missed was taken note of. It almost implied why was I out there living my life? I had articles to be read. Everything else could wait.
The unread posts counter quickly crossed over to triple digits. Quadruple digits? A week long vacation could get you there, easy. Each digit condescendingly staring back at me like a ruthless taskmaster, reminding me I had reading to get done. Everything else could wait.
I couldn’t keep up. Guilt-ridden, unsubscribing wasn’t an option. Mark all articles as read? No sir! Who in their right mind could afford to miss out on all those wonderful articles and photographs?
I frequently found myself ploughing through each of Jason Kottke’s posts. Voracious consumption of everything A List Apart had to offer was a priority. Each photograph my fellow photobloggers posted had to be seen. There was no way out. Couldn’t let the world pass me by.
Fighting a losing battle, getting to zero was nowhere in sight. There were always more articles to be read, more photographs to be seen. After months of trying, the inevitable happened… I stopped caring, I just gave up. In hindsight, I kicked myself for not quitting sooner.
This is not just limited to RSS feeds. Currently, on my phone, I have 7 app updates pending, 5 reminders, 21 messages in my inbox, 3 Letterpress games, 16 Whatsapp messages, 2 Twitter notifications and 4 Facebook notifications. All big red circles staring back at me, silently judging my ability to manage my time and get things done.
This whole information overload thing needs to be managed better. We’re so busy feeding ourselves with information, we forget about living in the moment. Obsessive compulsive checking of our inboxes and twitter feeds, fearing we might be missing out on the next video-game console announcement or an email from your boss which can wait till Monday.
Flipboard is a great example of this done right. It doesn’t remind me about what I’ve missed out on, instead it shows me what’s to see/read right now and leaves it at that. Cover Stories offers a nice recap of what’s good in the past couple of days, I rarely go beyond it.
I’d pay for an app that locks me out of Twitter after I’ve used it for 15 minutes every couple of hours. I’d be happy if it limited me to following up-to a 100 people at a time. I’d be happier still, if it reminded me to get a life when I cross a certain tweets/hour ratio.
This year, I’ve been teaching myself to let go, I don’t have to know and see everything. There are always plenty of things happening in the present that can make better use of my time.