Sad but true! I do not want to read newspapers anymore. Sad because not very far back my articles did appear in newspapers and a few columns found space in them with balanced views on my published novels. To me the relevance of the newspaper today is much as the radio and transistors which are relics of past eras. Perhaps, I should merely listen, watch and browse to keep my cerebrum activated rather than indulge in reading the lines. The television, the internet with easy access are seasames to vast information to satiate me with.
There is though a major issue; information ‘overload’ occurs when I get exposed to more information than my brain can process at one time. It maybe good but it does overburden my head. For instance, while taking a walk I may have bucket full of complex data worrying me, however my brain is able to process this information, and my nervous system gets soothed. Now what happens when I stand on the corner of Chandni Chowk, in New Delhi. The brain struggles to organize all my sensory vision and voices around me, and my nervous system becomes aroused and energized. I am confused and struggle to preserve my sanity!
Information to me is literally a click away. Depending on my query, there’s likely at least a dozen, if not hundreds, of blogs on the topic, a similar number of books and many more articles. The internet makes research a breeze. from wanting to know what triggered the World Wars or how the Nation was divided? Want to know how to bake a tasty kebab or buy a reliable used car or how to find a suitable bride? All this and much more it’s all there!
However, there is only a certain amount of information a human brain can process at one time. When we surpass that limit, symptoms of analytical or cognitive overload occur. We start to feel irritated, we are no longer able to think clearly, and even a minor decision may feel like a huge ordeal. The consumption of large volumes of information tires our mind as making decision consumes a lot of energy. When the brain gets tired from processing too much information at one time, the last thing it needs is another energy-consuming process like decision-making. That’s why even minor decisions such as which color t-shirt to pick or what sort of tea to buy can feel so challenging when overloaded with information. When one is overloaded with information, it is not just the ability to make decisions that suffers but also the willpower to stay motivated and productive.
What happens when we are unable to interpret large volumes of data or find that particular piece of information we are looking for. We get into information anxiety leading to stress and exasperation.
According to experts, information overload takes a toll on concentration and focus. When there is more information in our head than we can effectively process, our brain starts to rush from one idea to another. It is a form of mental multitasking that makes your brain jump from one thought to another. this state of mind does nothing to help with focus and concentration.
By consuming way too much information, it becomes harder to distinguish between high-quality and poor-quality content. One stops questioning the trustworthiness of information and it becomes a lot easier to be manipulated. Things like fake news, phishing, and scams flourish exactly for that reason — because we forget to think critically at precisely the time that doing so is most important.
Without going into details a few measures to reduce the overload could possibly be, scheduled breaks from the Internet, set limits, keep the virtual and physical spaces clutter-free, and consider that our brains are trays laid out on buffet tables. Just like we should care about what and how much we eat, we should pay attention to the quantity and quality of the information we consume.
The junk food does to our bodies is not much different to what junk content does to our minds. And with such an amount of information available to us at any given moment, it’s important to be mindful of when our brains are full and need a chance to digest, sift and release out the feces.
Many thanks to Jafar Shameem for the beautiful pictures taken by him. These have added buoyancy and meaning to the post.