Using the Internet to gather some information has been compared to trying to get a drink from a gushing fire-hose. The metaphor came to mind as I ended my at-home spiritual retreat. The backlog of personal business, correspondence, and current events was so overwhelming that I was tempted to begin another retreat, right away.
It has been a matter of regaining balance between madcap catching up and outright denial of what’s going on in the world. Taking care of business and correspondence has been easy. The current events are another matter. All three branches of the U.S. government are still in melt-down. The desperation of incumbents to increase their power versus challenges to the power-grabs is dizzying in scope. Election years are usually full of information and disinformation, but 2020’s level is especially anxiety inducing.
I voted by mail on October 2nd, so I can disregard the campaign advertising by all of the candidates running for all offices. However, it is not wise to ignore the comi-tragic antics of certain incumbent office-holders who seem bent upon imposing theocratic authoritarianism upon us.
Add to this, the amount of advertising generously sprinkled into content we want to read. Banner ads that cover the content and are difficult or impossible to delete. The sheer amounts of content that are programmed to intrude upon our Web browsing experience are impressive. On top of these overloads, standard broadcast outlets gush forth with more stuff and ads, while the mail delivers scads of junk mail to discard or recycle.
I could complain endlessly about the information overload that has become entrenched into the modern world. That would be an exercise in futility. Chronic information overload can be relieved somewhat through more effective ways of processing and organizing it in order to enhance rather than stymie our daily life. However, sometimes it helps to shut off the gushing fire-hose of information and propaganda for awhile. The idea of mini-retreats is helpful.
Whenever I notice the muscle tension and anxious feelings beginning to build, I know it’s time to shut off the devices for awhile. Spending quality time outdoors or engaging in a creative project provide almost instant relief. The break enables me to put the chaos of information overload on hold and keep it all in perspective. Often times, just a simple time-out for an hour or so without doing anything is the perfect antidote to the onslaught of information and demands coming at us.
So as not to add more information to today’s overload, I’m abbreviating the length of today’s post from what I had originally intended. I don’t want to add to the unlimited manner that the Web paralyzes life. The comfort of rational scaling back without engaging in denial is the antidote.
The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes psychologist, neuroscientist, writer, musician, and record producer Daniel Levitin. “I don’t think we should have less information in the world. The information age has yielded great advances in medicine, agriculture, transportation and many other fields. But the problem is twofold. One, we are assaulted with more information than any one of us can handle. Two, beyond the overload, too much information often leads to bad decisions.”