You think you have it all in control, but you donâ€™t. After all, you cannot control a battlefield. It is a constantly evolving entity. So all you can do, is either continue the fight, or quit. Over my two articles regarding information overload, I am in that constant state of flux, exceeding my limits on what kind of information I have, need, or want to consume. It is a very complex situation to contain, because when I talk about information that sometimes evolves from being irrelevant to you, morphing into being important, suddenly the game changes. As much as we want to avoid, overcome, and conquer information overload, sometimes it really just overpowers you in some surprising ways.
To recap what information overload is to me, Iâ€™m currently living too much of an internet life. I have too many follows on social media, and I consume too much about technology, visual culture, and other general interest topics on my feeds. Couple that with a busy real-life schedule and an kind of subdued personality where I succumb to overthink syndromes, all this leads to me not being able to handle every piece of information that somehow gets in my way. In my second article, I outlined my intention to filter out the things that donâ€™t matter to me. However, it seems like Iâ€™m not doing a very good job at that, considering that the interaction doesnâ€™t just go one-way. Sure, I do decide what matters, and whatever action I do would relate to my decision. Problem is, some things get forced into me. There are situations wherein you canâ€™t help but need to absorb some other information even when you didnâ€™t like to. In that even if you didnâ€™t consider that it matters to you, those things would eventually end up mattering after all.
I forgot, there is actually a world around me.
I donâ€™t consider myself a social person, but that is just my opinion. The reality is that I am connected to thousands of people – all of us are. The world is flourishing with activity nowadays, with the advent of more advanced communications such as the internet, and the emergence of social media as a dominant, if sometimes essential, factor in a personâ€™s life. Iâ€™m not too NEET nor hikki enough that I can isolate myself from this social media world, so I am within that world. At some point within my overthink of how too much information is overloading me, Iâ€™ve touched on social media itself, and came up with a surprising revelation:
People… are information-overloading me?
Holy crap. This changes so much of my viewpoint towards information overload. I initially thought that me consuming information only involves me and no other third party. After all, I seldom follow mainstream trends. Whatever information I consume, whether it be news, opinion, music, movies, anime, video games, or whatever else, is of my decision, my active participation, and my free will. But then I start thinking about how much we are â€œsharingâ€ with each other… wait. This is it. Sharing! Itâ€™s the sharing that can potentially overload me!
We are all sharing stuff to each other, and itâ€™s a special part of information overload that I have difficulty in discerning. Because unlike inanimate objects, such as the usual information I consume, I canâ€™t filter â€œpeopleâ€. Even if itâ€™s just inanimate objects theyâ€™re sharing, I still canâ€™t ignore them. They matter. They should matter. Unless you are the ultimate anti-socialist person who really hates people, everything and the whole world, people matter, and it canâ€™t be helped. I think about all the times my friends recommend to me the latest restaurant they ate on. Telling me all the places theyâ€™ve visited and how they had the awesomest vacations. Gossips about celebrities or about other people in the social circle. Sometimes the topics they share do not matter to me, but I canâ€™t help but listen. Itâ€™s social etiquette to listen, and being an introvert, Iâ€™m supposed to be great at listening to other people. Indeed I am, but the side effect is the potential overload that this brings. The thing is, itâ€™s not just face-to-face. Itâ€™s on the face books too.
I am compelled to participate even on social media. Thereâ€™s this thing called tagging/mentioning. When friends tag you, it (subliminally) means they expect you to have read or seen the thing they shared. Sometimes, they expect a response from you. Great. This is not the information that mattered to me, but I have to act on it as if it does. If something is being shared to me, and Iâ€™m tagged, Iâ€™m forced to type in some words to comment. Nope, sometimes Like button or Retweet isnâ€™t enough. This is too much work, but it had to be done. This is my online social etiquette.
You may think itâ€™s only a few lines of comment that needed to be said, and youâ€™re in and out of that concern within just minutes. Let me tell you that for me, it all adds up. I am a person with time as an enemy. I have limited time. You may say that I maintain too much social media followings. This is partly true. As I mentioned, I am not the kind to filter people away from me. If I were probed by a third-party social experiment, they would probably conclude that I only have a few friends, but I donâ€™t see it that way. In my viewpoint, almost everyone is a friend, even acquaintances that Iâ€™ve fallen out of contact off for years, like classmates from high school and whatnot. Sometimes they ping me for a quick chat of â€œhow are youâ€ conversations, which is yet another example of information overload for me, but I am compelled to follow along. I would try my best to cut the conversation off, but not so abrupt as to disrespect nor disassociate.
Oh, I just realized Iâ€™m such a good person. Please, stop your hand claps! /sarcasm
I wonâ€™t end with a solution now, but I think it will come to me in time. Discovering a new way of describing my information overload is one step towards analyzing what the problem really is, and it might lead to remedies on how to survive it each and every day. Emphasis on â€œmightâ€, of course. Besides, I don’t believe information overload is such a overt negative thing. Let’s just say that it’s a double-edged sword. At least I’m not isolating myself, and am participating in whatever social environment we have in this world today. And in hindsight, when I re-read my previous two posts about this, this article actually only reinforced the idea I already set up in the first place. Fascinating. I think Iâ€™m closer to unlocking the true meaning of it all. So here it is again, I leave you with my signature quote about information overload, with bold emphasis on the social aspect.
Sometimes it is better to pull the plug. Wake up, smell the coffee, go outside. Breathe true air. Because what we have today is what I described before as information overload. Basically, because of technology, globalization, and human nature, we have too much stuff going on in our lives, and itâ€™s starting to bog us down. As the internet grows bigger, our communication with others becomes stronger, products and services continue to come to us from every part of the globe, and as we desperately strive to fill ourselves up being a part of this entire information ecosystem, by sharing, ranting, and basically enjoying it, the overload will continue.