We love to blame the world, because the world can’t blame us back. Nowadays, we can hear a lot of complaints saying about information overload and the various things about task that we supposed to be responsible for. Like shaking a fist at the sky, we assume there is someone or simply invisible force, willfully putting things in our way. Simply because we feel overwhelmed today, doesn’t mean the information of information is different from how it was one year or 100 years ago. Of course, at the present time life feels more overwhelming. Keeping our goals in focus isn’t easy. But that doesn’t mean, the world or technology is responsible for our problems. Let me put it this way, throughout the history some people have struggled to be creative and to concentrate, while others haven’t found it to be much struggle at all. Why is it different?One thing for sure, technology or volume of published information is not the one you should blame for.
Let’s looking a little further to the past. On the day your great-grandmother was born there were more books in print that she could have read. Did this trouble her? Probably not. The reason we feel overloaded today are the same our ancestors could have given for the book overload they were all born with. Now, let’s reminiscing a little while: Socrates never said “I’d do great work if I didn’t have philosophy overload from hanging out at the agora.” Emily Dickinson didn’t complain of vocabulary overload in the English Language. Picasso, Da Vinci, Tesla and Marie Currie all possessed amazing curiosities and could have been easily distracted away from their work by the abundance of sex, food, conversation, money, news, books, and paintings. Yet they worked. They produced. Van Gogh was mad and starving, and produced. Every generation has had its grand distractions. Our ancestors painted on cave walls for God’s sake, as the struggle for survival didn’t stop their creativity. Bukowski was a drunk and a bum in early sense of the word, yet wrote and wrote and wrote even more. The point being is we have to sacrifice something to create something.
Now the question is, what are we willing to sacrifice to create? If we don’t sacrifice something for our ideas, it’s our ideas that will be sacrificed for us. For our grandparents it was radio. For our parents it was TV. For us it’s the web. For our children it will be something else. There is always justifiable distractions, but history does not give us a pass for the ideas we let ourselves get distracted away from.
Maybe information overload is a myth or maybe it isn’t. My point is that as long as the things that distract us have an ‘off’ switch, the problem isn’t the world, the problem is US. The world, like we have known always had much more information that we can consume, much less understand. The only thing that’s changed is our self-righteous stress in response to it. Let me put this way. Imagine yourself going to music concert;did the hundreds of people in the audience distract you from listening?Or when you go to bookstores;did the many books on the shelves make it impossible to browse for a book you wanted? Let’s go hiking ; would the thousands of plants, trees and insects stress you out? Every abundance things that I have mentioned teach us that our brains are information avoidance machine once you realise the staggering ratio of what is around us compared to what we consciously notice.
We complain that the web is trash, but in the same breath we whine about how it is to turn it off. We crave, we habituate, we justify and we get nervous and uncomfortable when we don’t get our fix. And when we fail and feel bad, we blame the technologies and the world for our problems. We wonder why there is so much information.”Who did this to us” the answer is clearly the person asking the question. We as human being have been disciplined to consume more than we’ll ever need. When it comes to information, we tend to behave the same way: our inboxes and reading lists are several lifetime long, yet everyday we go out and chase more for no good reason at all. It’s a paradox, we fear missing out so much that we create an environment which guarantees we will feel we are missing out. We are compelled to be information fiends, hoarding it, feeling shame over it, feeling dopamine rushes when we capture new batches, conquests that only repeat the same pattern.
I’m a normal human being. Some days are unproductive. No matter how I want to create, work, produce. I just can’t. But I will never blame Twitter, Facebook, Netflix or a phone, for the same reasons I would never blame the sky. It’s up to me to gain control over mind. The world and technology in it has never been a problem. It’s the willingness to work over months, years to make our mind an ally in our pursuits and not an adversary.
So stand up dude. When you stand, you’ll discover you’ve been ‘drowning’ in a kiddie pool of information all along.