Information Overload

We all suffer from it at times: information overload. If the plus side of modern media is that we can be ‘connected’ all the time (Blackberry outages and Broadband failures excepted), the down side is that, unless we are strict with ourselves, we can fail to digest what we receive and our responses become instinctive rather than thought through. There’s nothing wrong with that if we are saints or geniuses, but for those of us who aren’t, I suspect there are only two options. Either we learn to speed-read (web developers will tell you that a webpage has only three seconds to grab attention and fifteen to maintain it) or we cultivate the habit of stopping and savouring before passing on to something new. Personally, I prefer the latter because it reflects not only the monastic tradition but the way I used to do historical research, engaging in dialogue with the text rather than simply trying to absorb it for future regurgitation.

The recent Blackberry breakdown has reminded everyone how fallible our interconnectivity is. Instead of fretting about it, perhaps we could see it as an opportunity to ask ourselves why and how we use the internet, what it contributes to our lives and what it may detract from them. ‘Information’, after all, comes from the Latin informare, to give shape to. We are shaped and fashioned by what we do online as well as offline. Information overload is a serious business.

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