Thursday, May 27, 2010

We; The Informed And The Distracted

We are told that we live in the Information Age. With 234 million websites (two of mine own included!) and 126 million blogs it sure is. Add to that the fact that You Tube serves up 1 billion videos everyday and 247 billion emails are sent everyday (81% are spam). More than 60 million status updates are posted everyday on Facebook and 2.5 billion photos are uploaded to Facebook every month. The iTunes Store is renting over 50,000 movies daily, turning it into the most popular movie store, too, with a catalog of over 20,000 TV episodes, over 2,000 films, and 8 million audio tracks. Not to be left behind is the daily buzz of unwanted calls on your phone and the sheer multiplication of newspapers, magazines, and radio and TV channels.

We are literally swimming and drowning in a sea of information. Whatever happened to old-sounding wisdom? And deliberation? And focussed thought? The one area where the pain is acute is relationships. The time spent developing relationships is being taken up by virtual communication and we are the poorer for that.

My purpose in writing this article is not to be anti-technology. I love tech, gadgets and of course Facebook, You Tube, Twitter and iTunes. My purpose is just to point out, in my capacity as a Psychiatrist and a student of the mind that the brain functions best with focus. Multi-tasking is so neurologically passe! Just like we conserve our economic resources; we need to conserve our psychological resources. The brain has limitations and we would perform better if we learned our way around them instead of against them.

More about that in the next article but let me leave you with one tip for today. Optimise the time you sit before a screen and minimise unproductive time on social networking sites when you can hit the gym and meet people in person. Start with a day in a week (maybe Sunday) when you are away from all electronic messages.

The Industrial Age resulted in environmental pollution and my fear is that the Information Age may result in an Information Pollution wherein we will be continuously informed and permanently distracted.

Your comments are most welcome!