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!



  1. i have read a couple of stories that you had posted earleir and today as i read this article i so very much feel a connect to it and the suggestion to have a day away from e-msgs is a real relief....just people and productivity in many other ways than comp n tv then y not it be a beautiful long drive down the evening as it was with me yesterday.
    I now have a strong reason to back my not-so confident belief on focus working over multi-tasking as the latter beyond certain extent pulled the fun out of doing jobs as well made some remain incomplete leaving a feeling of my take now....multi-task only to a certain limited level as much inevitable..!!!
    Keep writing...its witty, fun and encouraging 4 a less distracted info world..!!!

  2. really like this article. As a professor ...need to share this with my students whom I feel or term as "always distracted" . their mobiles will be on, laptops open class, during lectures

  3. It can be a staggering chore to zero in on the one as there exists several top cancer hospitals in Pune - some of which have fixed a position in the pasture with their treatment technologies and affordable patient care.