Everyone wants to be well informed. Knowing what is happening in the world is a right and, depending on the situation, we must stay informed to form our own opinion and act accordingly.
However, more does not mean better. Too much information can confuse us, psychologically drain us, and cause us anxiety by not knowing quite who to believe or if we are missing something.
In a hyperconnected world like the one we find ourselves in, it’s hard not to fall into information overload or intoxication. Then we are going to deepen this concept of intoxication and see what is its relation with anxiety.
How do intoxication and anxiety interact?
Not so long ago we lived in a seemingly simpler world. There were no more than ten channels on television, the newspapers told what happened yesterday, and the messages were sent by hand in letters that took days or weeks to reach their addressee.
Today’s world is completely different. With the development of information and communication technologies (ICT) We receive all kinds of information, immediately and from anywhere in the world. Newspapers and newspapers report, instantly, what is happening on the other side of the world, receiving the news seconds after it has happened.
And not just for the news. Mobile, instant messaging and social media allow us to be in constant contact with others. He used to stay in person with someone to tell us what happened to him or if he couldn’t be in person they would call him or exchange letters. Today this is no longer necessary because, as everything is shared on social networks, we quickly know what is happening to our loved ones without even having to ask them, and that’s it.
There is no doubt that ICTs are very useful and that being better informed is beneficial, but it also has its drawbacks. Our new way of living, hyper-connected and receiving information instantly, It can hurt us psychologically and cause us a lot of stress and anxiety.. The fact that we are bombarded with all kinds of data and, in addition, that we feel bad every time we lose something, gives rise to a particular psychological picture that experts have decided to call “intoxication”. .
What is poisoning?
Infoxication is a neologism that mixes the words “information” and “intoxication”.. It has other alternate names that give us clues as to what it is: “information overload” or information overload, information anxiety, information fatigue, information overload, and infobesity.
It is estimated that between the birth of writing, in the fourth millennium BC, until the year 2000, five exabytes (one trillion megabytes of information) were created. Just a decade later, in 2011, the same amount of information was being created every two days. Today such a huge amount of information is created after a few hours. This is due to the democratization of the Internet and information generation tools, from laptops to smart phones.
The phenomenon of intoxication is rampant in part because we are all good producers of information. From our cell phones and computers, we find it relatively easy to generate new material. As we live in a world where tools for producing information are better than tools for organizing and finding information, it’s hard not to fall into intoxication and fall into intense anguish in the face of so much data.
Intoxication occurs when the information we receive is much larger than what we are capable of processing. In the hyper-connected world in which we live, this phenomenon is common because with e-mails, instant chats, social networks, smartphones and other ICTs, we risk receiving an overdose of difficult-to-process information that puts an end to to our mental health.
The constant influx of information in an “always on” world leads us to be unable to process any information in depth. When there is too much information, we resort to superficial analyzes and diagonal readings. Really, we would like to do a more in-depth analysis of the data we receive but, since there is so much and we have so little time, in the end we evaluate them very superficially, which frustrates us and makes us very dissatisfied.
Infoxication worsens our ability to analyze information that causes us anxiety and, in turn, worsens us analyzing the data we want to analyze. It’s a vicious circle, a process that becomes more and more toxic if we don’t stop it and increases the risk that we make bad decisions by not knowing what data to process. It’s the perfect broth for believing fake news, which is a big risk
Infotoxicity is accompanied by several symptoms, in addition to anxiety and frustration: disorientation, lack of attention and concentration, memory problems, impaired analytical abilityindecisiveness, dispersion, impatience, perception of loss of time, impulsiveness and poor selection of information.
Other symptoms of intoxication are the need to stay connected all day to sources of information, for fear of losing something (FOMO or “Fear Of Missing Out”). The person wants to be aware of current affairs, both worldwide and of the status of their acquaintances, which leads them to compulsively consult websites, social networks and instant messaging chats. It’s like she’s addicted to information, and she wants more and more.
How to Avoid Information Overload Anxiety
For centuries we have associated more information with more freedom. Today we have access to more information, more options to choose from but, ironically, we don’t feel freer or more satisfied. The anxiety that causes us to be overwhelmed with information robs us of our well-being, and without well-being we cannot truly feel free.
Although we live in a hyperconnected world and will continue to do so, all is not lost. It is possible to avoid becoming a victim of poisoning. It’s good to be documented, though. sometimes you have to get away from the noise of social networks and mainstream media, such as television. We have the right to be informed, but we also have the right not to want to be informed. Too much information exhausts us, causes us too much anxiety, and we have every right to erect a barrier.
The physical and mental energy we invest in getting the right information is wasted if we don’t do something useful with it, and no matter how much time we invest, it always makes us feel like something is missing out on us. , which frustrates us and causes us more anxiety. Information is essential in modern life, but its excess overwhelms us and prevents us from processing it because we cannot analyze it in depth. In the end, it is better to select it, to avoid being overexposed to the information. Less is more.
Quantity is not synonymous with quality. It is necessary to choose to document oneself by reliable means, and to avoid those of which one is not sure of the informative rigor. Sure, they might be right, but we don’t want to be too informed. With little information, it is sometimes more than enough to know what is going on. And very important, we must filter and look critically at the information that comes to us, without believing in detail what it tells us.