Information Overload

By bluemist on May 12th, 2007

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I don’t know about you, maybe it’s just me, but are we having too much of a good thing these days?

I remember the days when life was simple. Toys were just Legos and Gameboys, news were just newspapers, pictures are on photo albums, and entertainment is based on radio and TV. Now we have computers and the internet, and then the world suddenly changed. We are at the point have more games and toys than we can shake our sticks at. At the point where news needs to be aggregated (RSS anyone?) just to be readable, pictures needed to be tagged just to be searched, and entertainment… we just discover new things every single second of it. I see this as information overload, folks, and we all know that too much of a good thing can turn dangerous.

In today’s age, there are literally an infinite number of ways to lose your time, mind, sanity, and maybe life, in the pursuit of what keeps you happy. At the time of this writing, I’m really having a hard time to put it into proper context without comparing my lifestyle with that of our older generations… our moms and dads. I would imagine that back in their days, life was simple. They don’t have to mind so many things except themselves, the people around them, and generally the important stuff that really matters in their life. In our days, we seem to mind so many things. For example, if you try to browse the internet, and discover news that this certain company is cutting hundreds of jobs in another country. Then you feel affected by it because you have some sort of product from that company. Maybe if you are a forumer or a blogger, you type in your insight and show the world how intelligent you are in analyzing these stuffs… But hell, think about it, isn’t it completely UNRELATED to you? Why should you care? If it were the 1960s, you won’t even know about the layoffs, even if you have their product. This may be a really small amount of information, but it ate a minute of your time, and a number of your brain cells, wasted on NOTHING.

My explanation still alien? Sure, let’s go anime. Before the torrents, before the fansubs, heck even before the internet even posted video, we have anime confined on TV, VHS and probably DVD. Simple, we watch and enjoy. We share with our friends the enjoyment by watching together, or talking about it sometimes. But we have the freaking tubes now, and we watch too much. We share with our, er, internet friends the enjoyment by not watching together, but now recommending stuffs. There’s just too much out there already. From a very obscure manga to a very very rare doujin picture of your favorite bishoujo to a very very very rare figurine that only a blogger from Japan has ever *apped on. What to do with your time? Do you want to blog today? Watch episode 224 of long running shounen anime? Read chapter 400? Play bishoujo game scenario #2? Wait, let’s not confine this to anime alone. How do I tag my mp3s? Wow, new 6-core processor, imagine my fps in that game. Oh no, that school shooting is so horrible. Wait, I need to wash the dishes… oh well, I can do it tomorrow.

A real major factor of this can be our globalization. As communication progresses between countries and continents, we exchange information so rapidly we tend to boggle our minds around it. At the forefront of how we communicate is information technology. 20 years ago it is unthinkable for someone to be able to chat with another person at the entirely opposite end of the globe without paying a hell of a phone bill. Now as long as you have a decent internet you can even “see” each other through webcams. With globalization, we seem to lead ourselves into a ‘generic culture’, where you tend to (want to) know whatever all others know. “Hey, the ice cream is great over here at XX store in XX country!” “There’s a cool bar at XX city, let’s try it out sometime.” “WOW, this bishoujo game is pretty great! Oh, and this manga too, the new one made by this author who also made XX…” The list of conversations can go on.

It’s already so bad, that the current trend nowadays is none other than… “search!” Search? Google, Live, and Yahoo is our prime friends. Think about it, why do we depend on search too much nowadays? Why do we feel the desperate need to look for every single tidbit, triva, or nitpick about a particular topic. We have been so nerdy on everything. And now, we amplify our already troubled minds in terms of the new Web 2.0 revolution, collaboration. Now we hear other people’s thoughts, we see other people’s entertainment, heck we already know what other people have been “searching” for.

Is information overload really dangerous? So what if we waste our time, money, patience, sanity, etc? Well, that previous sentence alone says it all. No matter how you put it into perspective, a WASTE is still a WASTE. You could have done a better project at school if only you didn’t pick up your portable game console. You could have been promoted at your job if only you don’t mind too much about what other options you have, researching for hours on end on the internet. You could have gotten a girlfriend if only you haven’t wasted so much time with useless 2D bishoujos (ouch that hurt). Don’t think of this as my excuse for not blogging lately, but really, sometimes I just wonder what kind of life I lead had I not done this thing, or that thing…

Sometimes it is better to turn off the plug. Wake up, smell the coffee, go outside. Breathe true air. We have too much info, it’s starting to bog us down. The madness will never end, and so I won’t conclude this article with something hopeful. As the internet grows bigger, our communication with others becomes stronger, as 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. I just hope you aren’t too affected by this… I know I’m trying.

22 Comments

Posted By: Pete Zaitcev On: May 12, 2007 At: 10:29 am

What brought this on? You concern me.

Also, I didn’t have any Gameboys. Heck, our TV had no color. My father assembled it himself.

Posted By: totali On: May 12, 2007 At: 10:32 am

I disagree. While these things can be considered a waste of time, joy is necessary for living. Sure, people may have been more productive in their own ways in the past, but we live in a much more advanced age. I think it is a great thing that we can share culture with people all over the globe so easily. It can be dangerous to spend too much time on these things (yea I did the whole MMO thing…) but if you realize how to manage your time, you can be quite productive while still enjoying these types of hobbies. In fact, it can even be used as inspiration depending on your type of work. For example, I do web/graphic type work, so these types of things go right with it. This is just the world we live in today, although it can’t be considered ‘mainstream’ yet. ^.

Posted By: piyo On: May 12, 2007 At: 10:52 am

Prioritize!

It’s your life.

You are not The Machine.

Posted By: Tubeless » Blog Archive » bluemist anime blog: Information Overload On: May 12, 2007 At: 11:09 am

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Posted By: Inuhanyou On: May 12, 2007 At: 11:20 am

Nice post, i can identify..years ago now(about 10) i just watched anime on the tube(and if i was lucky, found a good series at blockbuster or the video store) and had generally no knoweldge about how the series was fairing in japan or what other series’s were good instead of just downloading all my anime. Or if i liked a song on the radio, i wouldent scramble to find i pen so i could go home and just download it, i would hope it came on again so i could listen.

Its become a big problem for me, i’ve been addicted to the net for years now, and its pretty much ruining me. (ever heard of having no life? That’s me 10x ;-;) So..lol if you have any special suggestions to help kick the habit i’d be happy to hear them. SERIOUSLY

Posted By: Demian On: May 12, 2007 At: 11:28 am

This is just the economic model of the “Long Tail” going into effect. It’s not that we didn’t have hobbies/distractions before, but now we have the technology to search for and share new ones. People are spending more time on the things they enjoy, and if they can prioritize they still can live productive lives.

It’s hardly a bad thing that the world is now connected more. It means we have the chance to rise above petty national and religious differences and see the whole world as one. This won’t happen to everyone, but a lot of people will be effected. Citizen journalism is a great development in my eyes, because it means people are interested in what is going on in the world and think about changing it, instead of just hearing about it once from the tv.

While your claims are valid, you end up sounding like more of a luddite afraid of new technology. The world is already changing, for better in my opinion. People may be a bit more wired, but information is never a bad thing, even too much. (You seem to be talking about otaku more than normal people, who’s problems stem from low self-esteem and societal issues than too much information.

Posted By: suguru On: May 12, 2007 At: 2:06 pm

If you’re doing something you enjoy, something you truly want to do, then regardless of what it is, I strongly believe you aren’t “wasting” your time. I think the explosion of information and choice in entertainment isn’t harmful–after all, it’s the reason why I can enjoy anime that in the world of 30 years ago I’d never get to enjoy. The choice between doing a solitary activity and going out into the world and being more social has always been there, it’s not new to the Internet Age. Thirty years ago, if you didn’t feel like going out, you could read comic books. A couple thousand years ago, you could paint on the walls of your cave. It’s easy to get sucked into a hobby at the expense of a social life like the stereotypical otaku, but that’s a choice everyone has to make–how much time you allocate between your work, your friends, your family, and yourself (entertainment, hobbies).

Where I think things are getting more difficult is in balancing it all, because work demands more and more of our time, and we live in a world where people answer their email at midnight and find themselves surrounded by IM, email, cell phones, and pagers all vying for their attention. It’s not impossible to juggle it all, and human beings are amazingly adaptive–but I think it helps a lot to occasionally turn things off, to know when to get away from the ‘always-on, always-available’ world. I won’t take my cell phone with me when my wife and I go for a walk. I’ll watch an episode of anime over lunch for a break from work. I’ll turn off the ringer on the phone so we can sleep in Saturday morning. It’s little stuff, but I think it helps, for me at least. I think it’s all about balance and not getting sucked into the culture of “buying more stuff = happiness”.

Posted By: MoonlightBomber On: May 12, 2007 At: 5:15 pm

Whatever time period or place, one thing is universal: all excesses are bad. Balance is the key.

Posted By: Zeroblade On: May 13, 2007 At: 12:40 am

If this is some sort of effort to convince hikikomoris to get out of their rooms, it could possibly work.

Posted By: davide On: May 13, 2007 At: 2:43 am

people think advancement in technology is always for the better, which is not true. only when technology increases the quality of life is technolgy really useful. but now it seems technology advances for the sole purpose of profit.

some people will always be dependent on technolgy, especially when their life revolves around it. for some, they just dont need it (ex. online dating)

Posted By: TokiDoki On: May 17, 2007 At: 8:21 pm

I reckon in a few decades we will have even more methods to waste time and hopefully one of them will be decent virtual reality lol.

Posted By: Elyse On: May 19, 2007 At: 9:05 am

You know, it’s all about finding a healthy balance. You always have a choice. It’s being able to juggle a job, a relationship, friends, a healthy lifestyle, and still making time for all the little pleasures that make a good life. I personally believe connection with nature is the key.

Posted By: lordcloudx On: May 19, 2007 At: 12:00 pm

Do you mean you regret choosing to become an otaku?

I agree with what suguru (also moonlight bomber and those other ppl. I forgot to list) has said about balance and doing what you enjoy as not being wasteful… now if you’ll excuse me, I’m gonna play some ff while doing a handstand and downloading me torrentz.

one more thing: I believe what IT has done is simply give us more options on what to do with our time, how we choose to spend it is still up to the individual.

Posted By: Yanagi On: May 19, 2007 At: 12:36 pm

Hmmm…y’know Cloud, this person has got to get to know me. I literally try to lose myself in anime and I never for one single, moment in my life regretted the choice to become an otaku. I was an otaku before I even realized it, having grown up with age-old, classic anime from 20 years ago. However, with me, it’s a totally different story—anime KEEPS me balanced. Without anime, I may not be the happy, quite successful person I am now and that’s saying a lot, you can verify with Cloud. I am a lawyer by profession and I deal with reality every day of my hectic life. If that were the case, I would just shrivel like a prune due to life’s harsh realities. That’s why I need to dwell in animedom at some point in my day, each day, so I could keep myself grounded. Anime keeps me dreaming. Dreaming keeps me alive. And being alive means not losing sight of dreams…of wishes…of “snow angels in the spinning, starless sky” no matter how stressful and disappointing reality may be most times.

Posted By: JS On: May 21, 2007 At: 10:30 pm

As already posted previously, balance.

Posted By: dKiWi On: May 25, 2007 At: 2:05 pm

yupz yupz… I’m serving teh country now (conscript) and the only thing that keeps me going is anime. My platoon mates are stupid, the commanders are idiots, and the customers (I’m in Gombak Base Security Company) are much, much worse. I’ll probably be taking it out on the lower-ranked soldiers, like some of my section mates, if I didn’t have anime to watch, manga/light novels to read, and visual novels to play.

And where did I realise the beauty of this sub-culture? The internet. I am a perfectly sociable member of my section and can function as a soldier. I feel that I don’t waste time on the internet, rather it helps me appreciate better entertainment rather than the inferior stuff available in mainstream society.

But yeah, the most impt thing is balance and a clear sense of judgement. Like even though mainstream entertainment is inferior, its still ok to consume some of it to prevent being ostracised. Even though it is ultimately a waste of time.

Posted By: Melonpan On: May 30, 2007 At: 4:44 am

Gyabooo~ ITS THE NHK!

Posted By: zenical On: June 18, 2007 At: 9:37 pm

Now we have everything but I think its up to you whether you wanna go crazy. We have our controls. But I believe some people think that watching anime is like important while for some its reading books. We have different types of judgement. so it really depends on us.

the internet is the one thing that keeps me busy. because television shows are boring and the show ain’t that nice.
But we need to balance so yeah.. even though what may be a waste of time, time ain’t wasted at all ^^

btw I’m linking ya ^^ xD

Posted By: david On: June 20, 2007 At: 4:59 am

Great post! This stirs some interesting conversation…

I know it’s easy to get overwhelmed, but think of the many benefits of information globalization: rich people no longer hold all the knowledge; communities of like-minded individuals have formed; outcasts now have a home; global friendships have been created; entertainment is more diverse and giant corporations are more transparent. You can even create your very own feature film without a huge Hollywood studio!

I’m not sure where else I’m going with this – but my main point is that there are many more benefits than there are disadvantages (at least to me).

Posted By: Belair On: July 11, 2007 At: 8:41 pm

Melonpan: Couldn’t agree more. There must be a conspiracy behind all these, what a sinister organization it must be, to be able to kill the productivity of throngs of commoners, it’s also killing my college life.

Yes, I don’t download torrentz no more. I’ve been damned

Posted By: Ladysink On: July 15, 2007 At: 5:31 am

I think you have the right to be worried. Some people will not get over-obssesed about new things. But others, like me, will fall in hell. Anime brought the downfall for me. Sometimes i don’t want to go out. I think about dropping my studies, i managed to get to university, wich is odd. People are always judging you, they always step on you for no reason and such. While i watch anime or movies, read manga or books, i don’t have to face that harsh reality.

I think the people who cannot balance are those who will more likely take drugs or do other things that will bring them to hell. Sad people like me. Those who don’t understand why they have to suffer because it’s a reflex to breath when you just come out of your mother tummy.

I’m frustrated when people say that balance is the key. Like it’s easy and all. After that people like me will only get hurt again thinking of how much we suck at being normal people yet again. Geez my life sucks, but i still want to live…

Posted By: bluemist anime blog » Blog Archive » procrastination8: Handling Information Overload On: August 17, 2010 At: 10:15 am

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