Posts Tagged ‘Information Overload’

My work life and much of my personal life revolves around technology. The suggestion to step away from it occasionally is in part a response to what I’ve seen this week at South by Southwest Interactive.

The thought first came when I walked into my session Thursday and saw a roomful of people with heads buried in laptops, tablets and smart phones, rarely looking up at the panel of speakers in front of them. I kind of chuckled inside when I saw it and just stared a while at the crowd wondering if I had just walked into geek heaven or interpersonal hell.

The more pervasive indicator of the need is evident when you simply walk between sessions, down the sidewalk, go up or down escalators or stand in line somewhere. Most heads in those scenarios are bowed in worshipful awe toward the device in their hands, ignoring the 20,000+ people around them.

While I didn’t attend it, I wonder what the response was today to the session titled “Is Technology Making Our Lives Richer or Poorer.” I’ll have to look up what people said about it on Twitter. The subject also came up when an interviewer asked this afternoon’s keynote speaker whether we are losing something significant by walking around with heads buried in electronics.

It was during that keynote that I decided to stop the live tweeting for once and just experience the discussion – quite the contrast to the day’s first session which kept me constantly busy tweeting. In the keynote, my laptop was on the floor and my eyes were on the speakers. It was a very good change of pace.

I am grateful for my coworkers covering for me back at the office this week – a luxury I have not enjoyed for years – so that I don’t have to spend my evenings working, but can instead step away from it for a time.

Technology is generally good and helpful. It extends our capacity in many ways. But there are times when we need to put it aside and remind ourselves what it means to be human in real relationships with others.

Leap year lesson #72 is Step away from technology occasionally.

For many of us, information overload is an everyday reality. Between emails, texts, websites we frequent, phone calls, print media, broadcast media, news sources, etc., we have more information coming at us than we reasonably have time to absorb. Add to these the simple things of wanting to read an occasional book or pursue an educational goal, and the amount of input we heap on ourselves quickly gets out of control.

Some of it is important, but not all of it.

Periodically I have to unsubscribe from email newsletters, follow fewer people on Twitter, unfriend a few folks on Facebook, choose to take some time off from the routine websites I visit, and somehow reduce the quantity of info storming my way. I’ve done that quite a bit in the past few days.

When we allow our consumption of information to go unchecked, we end up devoting too much time nibbling at the edges on insignificant crumbs and we invest too little time feasting on what awaits us at the center of the plate.

If you have regular emails from some business or organization that no longer serve a useful purpose, then unsubscribe. Do the same with other connections in social media or print media. Try to remember every now and then that information sources are probably not useful to us forever. We need to impose an expiration date.

De-clutter the path of information from the world to your brain. Experience the simple freedom of leap year lesson #9: Reduce the noise.