We're dealing with an increasing amount of information everyday. This is beginning with public transportation. First thing you have in front of you when riding the metro is three different newspapers available for free. Each of them contain all kinds of news and junk advertising.
Then there are computers which basically allow you to access the knowledge of the world for free. You can be aware of what's happening anywhere in the world in real time thanks to the revolutionary Internet.
Next thing is emails. We're addicted to emails. We keep checking emails and our brain makes automatically us click on the new items that are filling the inbox. This is happening all day as long as you're in front of a computer.
And then there is Facebook. A whole new layer of information about your friends is capturing your attention. People say Facebook is about maintaining relationships with your friends. But does a status update make the relationship with your 500 or 1000 friends maintained?
And now there is iPhone. A handy device with which you access Facebook, Twitter, emails and news. In real time and from anywhere. Are we actually feeling good when processing that never-ending amount of information?
Although the quantity of information we need to deal with has increased in a huge way over time, our ability to pay attention did not. The average number of friends you can maintain over time in the real world is 150, says anthropologist Robin Dunbar. So what's the meaning of checking what's up with several hundreds of friends on Facebook? Which one of these situations do you remember the most: When you're hustling to keep your friends posted by sending messages left and right on Facebook; When you're having fun drinking beers in a pub with a bunch of friends.
Is it meaningful for you to spend your time consuming information and being often interrupted by "breaking" news, text messages and Facebook's notifications?
Getting information can lead to inspiration. But too much information is information overload.
Checking emails first thing in the morning will make you think you achieved something because you did answer emails. You actually did not craft anything new on your own. The worst is that your amount of attention has decreased. Although the thing you did just after emails might have required 100% of your attention to make sense.
If some news are really breaking news, that makes people talk about it. So you're aware of most news while small talks with people surrounding you.
The way we're spending our time everyday is defining what you achieved in your life. Time is a scarce resource and we don't control it. Our own attention is an even scarcer resource however we do own and control it. Does the time you spend to be aware of everything make your life meaningful?
Technologies are capturing more and more our attention. The span of attention we dedicate to a specific thing is becoming smaller and smaller. The information era is not over at all. And the way humans think doesn't make us avoid information overload because our minds are driven by short term commitments and activities.
Once again, technology can help us by providing the right tool. To make our life meaningful in this information era, we need tools to curate and filter contents. So you can focus your attention, do something that is meaningful for you and make a difference.