Addicted to Information?

I think I’m addicted to information.

The constant availability of countless links, blog posts, commentary sites, e-mails, and tweets pull at me.  They all flash before my eyes on my digital devices, buzzing around like a pesky fly, tempting me to deal with the itch.

So I usually do.

I wake up and, before commuting to work, see if any headlines at SI.com pique my interest, then scan the 10-day weather report to target optimal hunting days.  I suppose that’s the equivalent of skimming through a hardcopy newspaper.  

Information overload, conceptual image

But I check e-mail too often.  I click on links when I know they have little chance of revealing redeeming qualities.  Sometimes, I feel like I end up clicking on links or typing in URLs out of reflex, before even thinking about what I’m actually doing.

This type of behavior seems to reinforce Nicholas Carr’s thesis in The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brainsour neural pathways are being rewired as we embrace and use different technological tools.  I certainly don’t enjoy the sensation of being subconsciously moved to swat at the information itch, but I do generally enjoy sifting through the deluge.

Cheri Lucas Rowlands at Writing Through the Fog writes, “not much is gained from scouring and consuming as much as we can on the internet.”  I agree.  While the mere act of reading is pleasurable to me, Rowlands makes me question my own information consumption patterns as she continues, “…that’s all I need.  One intriguing, thoughtful story per day, relevant to my interests, rather than a flood of information through me, three-fourths of which doesn’t add real value to my day.”

Unlike Rowlands, who works as a writer and editor, I don’t have a fear of missing out on the best links and stories of the day.  My teaching demands don’t require me to be constantly up to speed on trending Twitter topics and other issues, so when I do feel like I’m working on overdrive to keep up with or consume digital information, it’s usually by choice. 

Do you feel addicted to information?  What web-curation sites/strategies do you use?  How much digital information that you sift through each day do you retain?  Does it matter?  How do we find that one worthwhile story?     

14 thoughts on “Addicted to Information?

  1. Love that “tidal wave of information” image! So fitting. Thanks for mentioning that post — I wrote it in the spring and am actually in quite a different headspace now. My job situation changed and it pulled me away from Twitter (and blogging and reading in general), and so that fear of missing out feeling has dissipated — I simply can’t keep up, and have just accepted that!

    As I mentioned to someone today, I’ve found myself relying on weekly roundup posts on sites and blogs I really like (Cyborgology, The New Inquiry, Nieman Lab, the Verge to name a few) and handpicking just a sprinkling of links to read each week. I’m reading much less, and being quite picky about it.

    I figure if there’s something I absolutely must read, I’ll find it eventually.

    • Thanks Cheri.
      As I started blogging last spring, with school demands winding down, I found myself writing at a pretty solid pace–two to three entries a week. This was unrealistic, and I found myself with more reading demands as a result, seeking out links, blogs, and articles to respond to. I’ve slowed down the blogging pace, but still haphazardly curate a lot of digital information.
      I think I’d like to adopt a disciplined info approach using your weekly roundup strategy, among others!

  2. I think we’re currently living in a culture where information is everywhere, and in every corner. Sometimes, I think it’s overwhelming, but at the same time, I think we subconsciously choose to be this way.

  3. Beautifully said. I feel the need to keep up with all the interesting articles and blogs on education, talented and heartwarming kids, and art, and it’s simply impossible. I love these things, but if I’m so fragmented all the time trying to read it all and converse with everyone about them, then I’m not left with the mental space to physically participate in my own actual life of education, talented and heartwarming kids, and art.

    • Gwyn,
      I have the same challenges! Being aware of finding balance and handling the fragmentation is a constant issue for those of us who enjoy reading and writing in digital spaces.
      For a great overview of education issues, I like the Marshall Memo, but there’s a small fee. Kim Marshall does a great job summarizing his top picks from dozens of education-related publications.

      • Thanks! I also enjoy Gifted Homeschoolers Forum (on Facebook. They are not limited to gifted issues nor to homeschooling issues. I find the articles they share to be applicable to all areas of progressive education thought.

        But here we are suggesting to each other even more online involvement! I think we must truly have a problem. :)

  4. Sadly, the moment I open my eyes, the first thing I reach out for is my cellphone to check my news feeds, e-mails, and social media. The same thing happens just before I go to sleep. I consume so much information and I feel like I’ve only gotten worse since I stopped working full-time. I wonder now if I have a problem..

  5. Pingback: Maintaining a Blogging Presence, Catalysts, and Inspiration | Mindful Stew

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