There’s a pop song I think of when I ponder the concept of information overload. The band Living Colour had a hit in 1988 with “Cult of Personality,” but it’s an obscure 1990 song of theirs called “Information Overload” that speaks to me on this topic:
“Sometimes I feel
Like my mind will explode
Sometimes I feel
Like I’ve got no control.”
The song itself is an anti-establishment diatribe, but there’s a kernel of wisdom in there. Every minute of every hour of every day, we find ourselves pummeled with information, much of which purports to be news. Even if you were somehow able to eliminate the ma
rch of social media from your consciousness, you’d still be getting news from the AP or UPI on the average of eight to ten times a minute.
Frankly, consuming news in the 21st century is more like drinking from a fire hose than sipping from a glass. Like the singer above, it’s hard to feel like you’re in control of the news, and it’s coming in so fast that you just might feel like your head will explode. There’s a few ways to deal with this mega-stream of information and tame the overload, but first we should look at two important terms and define what they mean. Ultimately, you have to decide where your news needs fit into these concepts, but we can at least find agreement on some basic parameters.
Relevance and importance.