In A World Of Information Overload

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Morty Mouse suffering from information overloadAs of writing, I’m taking a day off from work. I have too much cr@p that I want to do and too much stuff that I need to do, but feel as if I’ll never have the time for. Yeah, I can put it all on a list and mercilessly stick with it, but God has a sense of humor. And he has a bad habit of ribbing me from time to time. Then there’s the Internet. (Or whatever the hell you want to call it.) The main email account that I use testifies to the fact that there’s a lot of information online, but most of it is completely useless. (Whoops! forgot my SEO rule to include this article’s keywords “Information Overload”  into my post. I think I read an email from another account that Google has rendered this technique useless and has or had its search engine algorithm prioritizing actual content. Maybe that’s true. Who cares!)

Back In The Day…

Back in the “good ol’ days” when most everyone was using a dial-up connection that required a modem that transmitted data back and forth (sometimes to a crawl) between a desktop computer and something called a phone jack/outlet. Guess what type of useless junk that was sitting in my inbox back then? Porn!

Back in that day, the pornography industry was revolutionizing all sorts of stuff on the Internet. You name it, full screen video, Flash animation, optimization of images, etc. Porn was so plentiful back then, you even found in your inbox. (Yeah, they also helped pioneer spam.)  Even if you had no intention of ever signing up for any type of porn service, even if it was free, you still got it in boat loads via your inbox. And to be honest, a lot of it was pretty awesome, especially for a teen-age boy. By the time 21 came around, you had been guaranteed to have literally seen it all.

The downside to having “seen it all” is the moment you realized that you’ve wasted large chunks of your life looking at basically useless crap. So unless planned to have a career in the porn business, you would had wasted your life.

How To Waste Your Life Right Now!

Technology and the Internet have made great strides between 1996 and today, but human nature hasn’t changed all that much. Instead of finding a wasteland of porn to move into my spam folder, I’m inundated with offers for massively great life-changing (you fill in the blank) programs, newsletters loaded with time-wasting content, offers for products that I don’t really need. Is there stuff that I really want to open and read? You bet! But by the time that I delete all of that junk, I don’t have the time nor the inclination to want to read what I want. Maybe they were important. Yet I won’t die from not reading them. Neither will anything disastrous happen from not opening them.

Then there’s social media. Outside of being very clumsy tools for marketing, Facebook, Twitter, etc serve very little purpose in my life. Don’t get me wrong, they’re a troll’s paradise, especially Twitter. Plus, I can keep up with friends and learn about all of the things that I really didn’t want to know about them. Otherwise social media is just another form of procrastination.

Feeding money to Facebook just to run ads on their network has proven this point to me. The stats are usually guaranteed to suck. What makes it worse is when you see the universal negative reaction that your ads receive even though you geared it towards that very specific group and had Facebook serve it to people who had specifically expressed an interest in the types of things that you’re trying to advertise to them. The problem is that with any group of people on Facebook, they’re being inundated with posts pushing things that they may or may not even like. Regardless of how they feel, Facebook users will ignore your ads because there is so much cr@p in competition for their attention.

When the internet isn’t pissing way your time, television and radio are working are wasting it for you. I’ve completely given up on television (with few exceptions) because no matter how many channels I have, most of it I have no desire to look at. The stuff that I do want to look at, I end up mostly regretting.

Even the so-called “news” (which is supposed to be important, but it isn’t) is littered with stories that are either sort of true, maybe true, or we want it to be true. In all honesty, no matter which source you go to “to get informed”, you’re consuming narratives. And those narratives are designed to tell you the consumer what to think. It doesn’t matter where you live, the news it designed to conform you into someone’s political camp so you can be a good little believer and ultimately vote for the candidates that those “news” organization approve of.

I’m not saying that you can’t be “informed”, but you’ll need to use lots of mental energy to develop a B.S. meter that is capable of plowing through large chunks of information from multiple sources just to learn what the actual facts are. Assuming any facts exist.

So Why Did You Just Waste My Time?

That’s very important question! It also has a ridiculously simple answer. You are procrastinating right now and trying to use my a large doses of sarcasm and possible humor to entertain yourself for a few moments of your time. If you’re not working or keeping your kids from killing each other, you will likely do this all of the time. I’m obviously not perfect because I’ve just wasted time writing an article about wasting time.

We live in a world where we foolishly tell each other that, “knowledge is power”. But that’s a lie. If it weren’t a lie, we’d all be living in some type of utopian society where all of our problems have been solved because we’re so smart. But in reality, we’re not so smart. Knowledge is pretty useless if we don’t know what to do with it or can’t do anything useful with it. That’s why the public education system has been such a massive fail. Public schools create workers who are “well-rounded” with lots of knowledge that they can’t apply to their future careers (assuming robots and artificial intelligence doesn’t screw everyone out of a job). Oh sure, they can have interesting conversations about sh*t that they don’t even care about. But beyond that, the system doesn’t really advance anyone economically unless they obtain a degree that will put them underwater financially shortly after obtaining it. Even worse, that degree may become obsolete in a few years due to advances in technology. Then what?

So what can you do in this world of information overload? I can’t give you perfect advice. Any advice that I give you requires a certain level of discipline and self-sacrifice. But if you’re willing, I would advise you to boil down your life to just a few priorities. Those are the things that matter to you the most and need to be dealt with now matter what. Everything else needs to be relegated to either “when I get to it” or “it doesn’t really matter” status.

Often times you won’t know what should go where. For example, I’m always interested in finding new sources of income. But there’s a ridiculous number of ways of creating income. Most of them require time to research, learn, and digest. Then there’s the money I’ll have to spend obtaining the information about the new source, purchasing the necessary tools and services to get started, and to pay for marketing.

Assuming that my attention is in the right place, how important is this new business venture to me? Can I make it work? Is it even worth my time to start with?

My only exception is one of those things that you either can’t live without or will ruin your quality of life if you don’t have it. In that case, you’ll either need to seek an alternation solution or find another way to afford what you actually need.

Good luck!