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I wrote a post last year about Information Overload and how it is an issue that more and more people are dealing with in this digital and highly connected age.
Traffic TMI (Too Much Information)
Over break my boyfriend and I were trying to figure out the best way to drive through Washington DC (on our way from North Carolina to New York) and we had a number of highway options. Just two years ago, we would have looked at our map and taken an educated guess based on traffic, distance and time of day. We would have discussed for maybe a matter of minutes and then gone on our way never to think about it again. This trip, however, we had the GPS with directions and traffic alerts, both his iPhone 3G with current traffic (supposedly faster than my old one), my old iPhone with current traffic, printed directions from Google maps with traffic predictions that we had printed before we left and our brains. We discussed, weighed, and measured for a good hour of the trip the best possible route to take. This was highly stressful, then as soon as we got on our chosen highway and hit a pocket of traffic, we got more upset that we made the wrong choice. Too much information.
My mom had pain in her left thigh. Just two years ago we would have taken some Tylenol and called it a day. Instead, we Google, WebMD, Wikipedia, go to askdoctor.com, text Chacha for and an answer and find many. We figure out it could be cancer or it could be a bruise. We call our doctor friend, who also suggests going to the Internet, maybe we should make an appointment? Too much information.
My friend meets a guy at a bar. His name (made-up to protect his true identity) is Alex Carerra, or Alex Carara, or Alex Carera, we are not sure, but we need more information. Just two years ago we might have Google searched, but most likely we would have asked our friends who frequent the bar, “Is he nice? Is there anything glaringly wrong with him?” But, today, we Google him…oh good only 2 bijillionmillion results. We MySpace him, Facebook, LinkedIn him and Twitter him. I check the pedophile database, we set-up a Google alert. We find out he could be a registered sex offender (there is an Alex Carerra), he could like only guys (multiple MySpace photo’s evidence) and he could have a golden retriever that entered a dog show when ‘Alex Carara” was 10. Too much information.
Over break, I went on an Information Diet. You can too! Here is how: (also check out my post on 10 Ways to Tackle Any Problem for some good ideas!)
1) Make a Goal
Just like with weight, your goals should be quantifiable. Decide you only want to check Google reader once a week on Sunday. You are going to limit yourself to 50 newsfeeds or only check email at 4pm and 12pm.
2) Make a List of Traps
Make a list of all of your time sucks or places you get too much information. This will help you see the different areas you have to tackle. In a real diet, this would be your favorite sinful foods.
3) Find the Starting Place
Often times, figuring out where to start is the most important thing. So, where should you start? Always start at your biggest time suck!
4) Pick Your Top 5 Foods
There are a ton of amazing resources out there. Now it is time to pick your top 5 most reliable ones (or one for each discipline) For example:
-I used to check Zagat, Yelp, City Search.com and Twitter for restaurant recommendations. I have decided Yelp is best and that is the only place I know check…saves me time and stress.
-I have a blog for parents, So I used to read a ton of parenting blogs, but I realized I was steeped and burdened by a thousand blogs. Now I Google alert the specific topics I need to keep up on and read my top 5 favorite parenting article aggregators. I am a blogger, so I hate to say this, but pick yours faves (hopefully mine) and stick to them.
5) Weigh Yourself Daily
Make little goals and keep checking in with yourself. Over break I had a little log of when I could go online and check email and when I couldn’t. The log actually gave me a mental respite.
6) Don’t Be Too Strict on Holidays
Even if you are on a diet, you allow yourself cake on your birthday or the occasional brownie because we are human! So if you have a weakness (needless Youtube demo video searching) give in once in a while or give yourself two hours a week where you can surf for fun and get all of the information you want.
7) Allow Yourself One Treat
If cannot stand the idea of not googling, chachaing, WebMDing an ailment. Then allow yourself that ‘pleasure.’ Sometimes it is easier to give into a neurosis than to try to block it. But just pick one!
The main idea I want to get across in this post, is that it is good to take a break from all of your electronics once in a while. Fasting (like in real life) can be unrealistic and consuming everything all the time is also a dangerous endeavor. Balance is key!
Have your own suggestions and additions on this topic? I hope so! Of course, as always feel free to leave them in the comments. But, I started the first editable parenting book on a wiki. Here I am having you, my readers publish and edit my articles and add to them as they please:
-Like Wikipedia, but for parents!
-If you are a blogger, you can post link to your articles on the topic for other readers.
-Vote on your favorite parenting advice
-See what teens think of your advice (they vote too!)
Check out the editable version of this article on Information Overload and Information Dieting in our Wiki and other reader’s additions here!
Also check out: Teaching Your Teens About Mental Hygeine
This post is dedicated to Peter Pamela Rose, who has helped me realize that I can tackle any problem that comes my way. Peter, by guiding you through the digital maze, I have learned a lot about myself as well!
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