OK. I admit it. I am of the age now (sigh) that I receive the AARP magazine. Which I did not ask for and which goes straight from the mailbox to the recycle pile every month. And, yeah, I freely admit it’s an ego thang.
This month’s issue, though, grabbed my attention because Valerie Bertinelli is on the cover. There she is, over there to the left looking fabulous. (Maybe I’ll rethink my AARP predjudice – George Cluny’s in it too.) I’ve always liked her beginning in the ’70′s when One Day At A Time was one of my favorite TV shows. Then she married Eddie Van Halen. EDDIE VAN HALEN! How freaken cool was that? Anyway, blah, blah, blah…..time moved on and I just always liked her. So I opened the magazine and read the very nice story written about her.
But that’s not what this post is about.
No, this post is about The Too Much Information Age of which I have been pondering for a couple of weeks now. Obviously, the cosmos is in tune with my thoughts because it keeps throwing related information (ahem!) into my galaxy, forcing me to read and ponder and think to myself that I really need to do something about all this mental stuff going around in circles inside my head. So as I’m browsing through this magazine I come to an article entitled May I Have My Attention, Please?
“Welcome to the Attention Crisis—also known as the “culture of distraction,” information-fatigue syndrome,” or simply “modern life.” It’s what happens when technology’s flashing, beeping, dun-dun-daaahhhing stimuli scramble your focus, shred your nerves, and squander your productivity.”
Scrambled focus, shredded nerves, squandered productivity? Umm, yeah, sounds like the black hole I’m in.
It all started so innocently about 5 years ago with my discovery of blogs. Fastforward to the present and it’s extended to a healthy (unhealthy?) list on Google Reader of 123 subscriptions (recently culled down), 4 blogs of my own, 2 Twitter accounts, 4 emails and Facebook. I’m not even mentioning other social sites I’ve joined & neglected or just forgotten about. Facebook alone has been a tremendously voracious eater of my time. And I don’t own a Smartphone, Iphone or anything even remotely akin to them and I don’t want one. The same day I read the AARP article I watched a story on NBC Nightly News about how Tweeting and internet surfing on Blackberries, etc is taking time & attention away from the kids of their tech-addicted parents. Several people actually admitted to it and expressed dismay but didn’t seem willing to change their behavior.
I have to my admit my addiction as well, though. I don’t have kids but I do have a husband who constantly complains I’m on the computer too much…..and he’s right. I haven’t been willing to give up my blogs, the reading, the tweeting, the status updates, etc, etc, etc until recently. But I think I have finally maxed myself out and I blame it on the oilspill.
Like most everyone here, I have been reading everything I could get my hands on about the oilspill – even having a Google Alert set up to catch every piece of news that mentions “Deepwater Horizon”. For the past month or more I’ve scanned every item coming over, reading about half (and that’s a lot) and either tweeting or posting on Facebook much of it. I’ve clicked other people’s links to oilspill stories. I have immersed myself into the oilspill to the point that I feel like I’m drowning in information. It’s just too much and it’s affecting my mood – not for the better.
Focusing on one thing to the near-exclusion of everything else in life is not good mental health. So I’ve stopped checking my email as soon as I get up in the morning and try not to turn on the computer until after 3:00pm. I’ve stopped updating my Facebook status everyday and limit the links I post. I’ve cut waaaay back on Twitter and on my own blog posts. This is what I’ve done so far but more (rather, less) is coming. Every day I tell myself that I don’t have to know everything that’s going on in the world every minute of the day. Really. I don’t.
Already my days seem longer…I’m spending more time outside, more time with the dogs and husband and more time reading actual books. More importantly, I feel like I’m on more of an even keel emotionally. And it’s feeling really, really good!