Mission & Name
US Foreign Policy (Dr. El-Najjar's Articles)
Information Overload Now, Future
Disorientation and Shock
By Paul Balles
Al-Jazeerah, CCUN, February 13, 2012
Spira has no doubt that "too much information without reflection can
stall our productivity. It affects our ability to manage thoughts and ideas,
contemplate and even to reason and think."
Six months ago, I wrote about Alvin Toffler's book Future Shock,
which looks at a world with "too much change in too short a period of time".
In Toffler's view, change overwhelms people, leaving them disconnected
and suffering from "shattering stress and disorientation" –- or “future
The majority of social problems are symptoms of future
shock according to Toffler. From his discussion of the components we also
suffer from "information overload".
Journalist William J. Lynott
explains that the brain has limits on how much information it can handle.
Beyond that limit the brain becomes overloaded; thinking and reasoning
become dulled, decision-making flawed and, in some cases, impossible.
Lynott says "We are being overwhelmed with information. Each new day
introduces an unrelenting flow of data -- TV news, the Internet, e-mail,
voicemail, faxes, cell phones, pagers, billboards, junk mail, newspapers,
magazines, books, catalogues, nonstop cable news."
considering social media like the current fascination with Facebook, twitter
and LinkedIn, Lynott argues there's no escape. "It assaults us at home, at
work, even at play,” he says.
“By one estimate, a single issue of
the New York Times contains more information than the average 17th-century
person would come across in an entire lifetime."
William I Robinson writes "As the crisis of global capitalism spirals out of
control, the powers that be in the global system appear to be adrift and
unable to propose viable solutions."
Is this a result of information
overload as Toffler predicted and Lynott observed? It has become very
difficult to handle all of the information bombarding us while trying to
keep focused on anything.
With a spotlight on the current situation,
Robinson says "There will be no quick outcome of the mounting global chaos.
We are in for a period of major conflicts and great upheavals."
Following the recent movements (if that's what the gatherings can be called)
by "rioters" or "demonstrators" or “hooligans”, Robinson argues:
From the slaughter of dozens of young protesters by the army in Egypt to the
brutal repression of the Occupy movement in the United States, and the water
cannons brandished by the militarised police in Chile against students and
workers, states and ruling classes are unable to hold back the tide of
worldwide popular rebellion.
Can there be much doubt that these
events are chaotic? What do we have so far? Too much change happening
too fast. Information overload is reflected in global chaos leading to major
conflicts and worldwide upheavals.
How does information overload
figure in chaos and how do we react to it? Remember, information
overload comes when we are trying to cope with more information than we're
able to process to make sensible decisions. In this situation, we either
delay making decisions or we make the wrong decisions.
is to be clear about key priorities and primary interests, use scanning to
get through the piles of data and determine which information is actually
Instead of having dulled senses as a result of being
bombarded by information overload, we can manage time better.
volume of information we have today “throttles productivity, reduces our
capability to absorb and learn, puts our physical and mental health at risk,
and interferes with personal and business relationships," according to
Jonathan Spira, CEO of Basex, a research firm focusing on issues companies
Spira has no doubt that "too much information without
reflection can stall our productivity. It affects our ability to manage
thoughts and ideas, contemplate and even to reason and think."
Solutions: avoid too much TV, focus, organize, take time to reflect,
meditate, prioritize, Google "information overload".