Addressing Information Overload

Practically and Psychologically Dealing With the Information Explosion

Posted Nov 22, 2015

oko, Francisco, labeled for reuse
Source: oko, Francisco, labeled for reuse

So much information is available, curated, with just a one-second Google search.

You'd think having all that knowledge at our fingertips would make us feel more secure.

Yet it makes many people feel less secure and more overwhelmed. They suffer from information overload.

How might we be informed without feeling overwhelmed? I see two options:

Ruthless restriction: Pick two authoritative sources, one on the Left, the other on the Right, perhaps the New York Times or CNN on the Left and the Wall Street Journal or Fox News on the right. As needed, add a publication for your profession and/or do Google searches and look at the top few search results. Having set those limits on your information gathering, make it a clean cut: Fully accept that you've decided that additional information gathering isn't the best use of your time.

Embrace it. Decide to be an information junkie and spend a daily hour or two  enjoying quality information outlets such as the above plus The Atlantic New Yorker, and PBS on the Left, the Economist in the Center, and The National Review,  talk radio, and Weekly Standard on the Right.

Accept your fallibility.  Even if you regularly scour all those sources and more, there will always be far more you don't know than you do know.  Just as you'll never have the perfect face, body, or personality, you must accept that your base of knowledge will always have more holes than swiss cheese. Even a physician, who's dealing with life and death, finds it impossible to know all s/he should know to save lives.

Ultimately, we must make peace with our imperfections including in our fund of knowledge and at some point, decide we're spending enough time on knowledge acquisition and that our time would be better spent using what we know or, heaven forbid, just having fun.

Marty Nemko's bio is in Wikipedia. His 8th book has just been published: The Best of Marty Nemko.