It took accepting the Facebook friend request of someone I’d only recently just met to set me on a quest to ultimately come up with a formula to deal with the very real problem facing many people today, that being having to deal with information overload. For all that the information superhighway has given us, its major downside is indeed that of bombarding us with way too much information.
I mean just think about the numbers surrounding YouTube alone. The number of videos uploaded to YouTube every day translates into numbers which are impossible to consume by way of how many minutes of video footage that is. What of all the written content which is matched to you over all manner of platforms in an attempt to cater to your suggested cookie-tracked interests? I mean as a writer, the topics I search for and do research on don’t necessarily resemble my interests, but that’s where one should look if they are to win the battle against information overload.
You are a sales target
The guys over at Google might in their mission statement have you believe that their aim is simply to keep organizing the internet’s information and deliver it to users in a manner which proves to be valuable to those users. Fair enough, but it’s everyone else around that noble and just cause who make for a minefield for chronic information overload.
Everyone else who wants to deliver information which matches your interests, I guess this includes Google to a certain extent, only really wants to sell you something. Your interest is gauged through content you interact and engage with and then someone, somewhere is going to come at you with an offer, usually delivered subtly (or not so subtly) through some or other form of advertising.
Let’s go back to my recently acquired Facebook friend for a second – this guy practices the Hindu religion and it’s something which is clearly a huge part of his life. Now, to express his devotion he is a follower of many religious pages on his Facebook account, the content of which pages he shares like his life depends on it.
Problem? No problem, except every single thing he shares somehow bombs my timeline and I have to see an endless stream of what he clearly deems to be important.
So how did I solve this problem? I simply played around with the settings until I figured out that you could effectively filter out posts or other information from specific sources, a function which appears to be a feature integrated into all the biggest platforms.
If you want to win the information overload war, all you have to do is apply the formula of weeding out irrelevant information by simply “opting out” where possible. You need to take control of how information is delivered and displayed to you, but each platform usually has its own method through which this can be done.
After all, all these platforms you frequent online want to keep you as their user, so to a certain extent they will aid your efforts to try and fight information overload.