Information Overload

Everyone is overloaded with information — at least that is what many people tell themselves. And while it is true that individuals have access to more information than ever before, I tend to believe that the information itself is rather innocuous. For it is the myriad of messages that affect us as individuals — in other words, it's all about the stories.

The stories that surround us are almost inescapable and perhaps provide insight into why I've always found Nature so soothing to settle into. After all, unless one is walking a nature trail, nothing is labeled with letters. In the Quiet Corner of Connecticut, where I grew up, most trails are marked with splotches of turquoise paint. On rare occasion, others are marked in red. Although these trails are marked in the simplest of symbols, these symbols tell a story too.1

Even when offline, we are still surrounded by stories. Take a simple walk through the tiniest downtown you can find and really pay attention to the quantity of messages that you are bombarded with. Innocuous street signs, walk signs, store advertisements, and parking notices are just a few of the messages that come to mind — I'm sure you can think of more if you try.

Each of these items is vying for your attention, a situation which quickly magnifies as soon as you go online. At this point you might be wondering how I can say that information isn't the issue. And I stand by my claim that it isn't. The main issue that we run into is our propensity to wrap stories around the information we've found ourselves immersed in. The immediate need to judge whether something is "right" or "wrong", "correct" or "incorrect", and a whole host of other categories.

As I mentioned yesterday, judgement is important, however, each of us must learn to temper this faculty with non-judgement2 — in other words, resisting that urge to wrap a story around everything.

Each of us is responsible for the integrity of our own thought-stream — no one else. I will be delving into practical techniques to accomplish this in my future posts. For now, simply noting when you are judging (whether "good" or "bad") is an excellent place to begin.

Share your questions or comments below!

1 A single splotch of paint typically indicates that the trail is more or less straight ahead, whereas a "double dot", or two splotches stacked, shows that the trail has taken a turn.

2 Non-judgement, or being receptive to "what is", can be compared to the pillar of Mercy (the complement to Judgement) in my previous posting.