Ever felt like you’re having a case of information overload? If so, you are not imagining things. We really are consuming more information now than ever before in the history of mankind. How much information? Well, scientists are measuring it in zettabytes. A zettabyte, for your information, equals one trillion gigabytes. So one zettabyte holds what about 2 billion laptop computers could hold, if they had 500 gigabyte hard drives.
When information intake reaches those levels, there are serious reasons for concern. Can we withstand such a flood of information? Will we try to recall too much of it? And how will all of this information affect our lives, our cultures or our businesses?
Effect of information over the brain
Let’s take a look at some of the effects. People are becoming addicted to the internet.
They are reporting that it is so hard to get away from gadgets and machines that family time is becoming difficult for everyone involved to commit to. Businesses are increasingly frustrated with distracted, “multitasking” employees who are just as likely to be checking their Facebook notifications or setting their fantasy sports lineups as they are to be doing actual work.
Our health can even be affected by these trends. We all know how important sleep is, but those who use computers or mobile phones at night tend to get much less than they should. How much less? Almost two hours’ worth, according to a recent study that shows that social networking sites, phones and technology contribute to late night activity and a lack of necessary sleep in teenagers.
Many scientists have opined that people are actually less focused and more absent-minded due to the constant pull of technology and the quick bits of information we are accustomed to getting. One only has to look at Twitter, where thoughts are limited to 140 characters, to see how we are used to having things distilled and given to us in bite-sized chunks.
While mobile phones and similar devices make many tasks more convenient, they also increase stress by making us more accountable. Business executives are expected to always be available due to the expensive phones they carry at all times, for instance.
Many even believe that the lack of downtime in which we can let our minds wander or think about whatever comes to mind may affect our creativity levels or even our psyches.
Ironically enough, processing all of this information may even contribute to focusing problems, since we are so used to hopping from one thing to the next and have a hard time being “bored” for any length of time before pulling out our phones or getting on our computers.
In the work world, where we have always assumed that multitasking leads to increased efficiency, we are finding out that the opposite is often true. Multitasking usually means that you sacrifice quality in every area, particularly when a portion of that multitasking is checking non-work related e-mails or instant messages. Furthermore, studies have shown that those who multitask frequently end up having more trouble distinguishing useful from non-useful information.
Too much information may affect our productivity
Scientists believe that we can easily become addicted to the constant notifications of e-mails, text messages and other alerts because of the small release of dopamine when such a notification occurs. Also, these distractions allow us to portion work and other essential tasks into little chunks, as we can take “e-mail breaks” or similar breaks to reward ourselves for doing actual work. However, this is certainly not helping productivity any.
The qualities that we look for in our best and brightest individuals: creativity, attention to detail, focus on the task at hand, for instance, are not being cultivated by our current lifestyles. What many experts are encouraging is less multitasking and more focusing, as well as less time with technology. Remember, if you want your brain to work correctly, you have to rest it just as you do with the other parts of your body. In the long run, it will pay off, and you just may find yourself living a healthier, less stressful life, to boot.
|The information presented is not intended to, and does not in anyway, constitute or replace a medical advice, and it should not be used for diagnosing or treating a health problem. The information is provided for educational purposes only, and is based upon the authors’ personal experiences or point of view. If you think you have a health problem, please consult a qualified medical professional..|