How Too Much Information Can Make Us Stupid and Miserable

On the great paradox of the Information Age and why we can’t keep ignoring it

Katie Jgln
The Noösphere


Image licensed from Shutterstock

Air, water, and soil pollution are now well-recognised and extensively studied issues.

We are acutely aware of the damage humanity’s exponential growth over the last centuries has inflicted on natural environments and the implications for our future if we do nothing about it today. But, as a group of scientists recently argued in a letter published in Nature Human Behavior, perhaps we also need to recognise and mitigate pollution in another kind of environment: the information space.

After all, and in the last few years alone, we’ve created more data than in all of history. One estimate suggests that roughly 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are generated every day — a number that is difficult even to comprehend.

Most of us are immersed in an unprecedented amount of data, too. From the moment we look at our phone in the morning, we’re almost immediately assaulted by a barrage of information. Emails. Texts. News app alerts. Social media notifications. Weather forecast. Calendar appointments. New podcast episode nudges.

Some of it does make our lives easier.