Information Anxiety

Have you ever woken up dreading looking at your phone to meet the waves of posts and messages?

It’s something I’ve become familiar with. Information anxiety, they call it. Richard Wurman, author of the book Information Anxiety, says the condition is “produced by the ever-widening gap between what we understand and what we think we should understand. It is the black hole between data and knowledge, and what happens when information doesn’t tell us what we want or need to know.”

Information anxiety causes a loss in productivity everywhere. People cannot understand the constant influx of information that is presented to them, and are distressed by trying to reconcile numerous sources practically screaming in their ears. We know there is more information out there, and yet, we just cannot absorb it all. It is a perceived shortcoming of being human.

We cannot know everything.

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So why do we expect that of ourselves? With approximately 2.5 exabytes, or 2.5 billion gigabytes, of data in the world, we cannot hope to take it all in. People are under the impression that everyone else is in the loop, and that they themselves are the only ones who do not understand.

This pursuit is killing meaningful conversation and connection. With a world of facts, people have disregarded the importance of thoughts. Simple ideas and unfounded theories have gone by the wayside, and facts reign supreme in a society pursuing the synthetic ideal.

There are many who feel this way. I myself have struggled with even breaking into social media, let alone big data. And the benefits that these tools reap are too great to do away with them. I am no psychologist, but I will offer my tips, the tricks I found that helped me overcome my crippling fear of technology and information, and how baffling the entire charade is.

  1. Set a Technology Bedtime: It’s widely known that looking at a screen late into the night is bad for your health, but absorbing more information and trying to synthesize it in a meaningful way is even more stressful, especially when you’re tired. Pick a time to unplug.
  2. Don’t Bring it When You Go Out: Unless you’re out on business, allow yourself some breathing room.
  3. Set Meetings in Person: Talking to a screen is unsettling. If you’re conversing with someone, set up a meeting in person. You’ll make a better impression, and you can communicate in a more fluid way.

Like I said, these are just some tips that have helped me. If you have more questions regarding information anxiety, I urge you to read this article from Richard Wurman.

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