Critical Thinking Media Competence

Overloading Information

The collection, detention and dissemination of information are more and more important in the society, nowadays. Each year there are between one and two billion of new data. Separately the internet comprises more than 2.5 billion documents and each day there is a growth of 7.4 billion of new sites. Due to new technologies such as television, mobile phones, computer, clouds, DVDs and Blue Rays it is possible to store and to transfer more and more information. When in 1990 there were only 198.000 Television spots per year, there were it in 1999 2345.294.This big mass of information makes it to a difficult and complex task to filter the important ones and to drop the less important ones. The consumer is irritated, confused and less observant because of the huge avalanche of information with which he is confronted each day. The quest for knowledge is prohibit by the discourage of overloaded information. For this reason, the development of overloading information is a negative one for the society.

New technologies such as the internet and in following web search machines such as Google just seem to make it for humans in the 21th century easier to find and to search for information. Due to the discovery of the internet in the 1960´s, today, it is more comfortable to search on a computer than to go to the bibliotheca or discover thinks by themselves. Because of the help of the internet it is possible to get information from all over the world on time and on detail.

However, these new possibilities flood the consumer with a wave of information and it is more comfortable than to search in the bibliotheca or to fly to the attraction, the World Wide Web is complex. Web searching takes a lot of time and at the last resort seems impossible, discourage and cause the interruption of the quest. On average every German spends about 135 per day for searching in the internet. In Addition to evaluate to authenticity and to assort information into important and useless ones is a long procedure.

The technological development and new access to a rising number of different media such as television, computer, mobile phones and mobile web could on one side be described as innovative and future-oriented. However, at the same time there are also many disadvantages in connection to the information overload caused by the rise of new media. Having many opportunities of receiving information can lead to a decline of concentration of the recipient. For instance, if people are confronted with information for the whole day, they might not pay enough attention to anything that is not connected to it because information overload becomes an integral part of the day. To illustrate this example one should consider the situation in universities, other educational institutions or training courses as many people should be listening to others for a while, ironically to gain information.

Since this information might not be as interesting as the one from the mobile phone or the tablet computer, some of the listeners might turn their attention away from the teacher, professor or the tutor to read the latest news or to chat with friends. Furthermore, scientists suggest seeing concentration as some kind of ecosystem where possibly only different and selected types of information may turn someone’s attention on an issue. Often if people have to get information they may digress from this topic because it might not be interesting in this specific moment. Instead, there is the possibility to get information that could be more attractive.

However, this phenomenon may have serious consequences. Richard Sennett highlighted that due to new media and the appropriate information overload people might tend to focus more and more on so called “soft entertainment” including social networks or scandals. The problem can be described as some kind of overstimulation of mind. Especially children may not be able to differentiate between useful information and nonsense which could also be found in the daily flood of information.

Information overload’s effects can be summarized by 4 major threats. One is the declining level of creativity. Focusing on numerous topics simultaneously leads to a lack of concentration, while the emphasis on one issue without interruptions enhances the level of creativity. People, who are facing a highly fragmented day with countless activities and meetings, suffer from a loss of constructiveness.

Furthermore, the inundation of information can result in poor decision making. People are skimming and scanning through superficial articles, but neglect to invest time and patience to go beyond the first results.

Moreover, according to scientists, being bombarded with bits and pieces of information can evoke an increase in stress hormone productivity. People start to feel anxious and helpless. The constant urge of checking mails and messages can engender in a chronic distraction. ‘Pseudo ADD’ and ‘Attention Deficit Trait’ are terms used by psychologists to describe people who simply cannot focus on one task without surfing the internet.

Finally, the productivity declines. Working parallel on diverse targets can lead to significantly more errors and ultimately resulting in increasingly time-consuming tasks. Studies of the ‘New York Times’ uncovered that this multitasking is going to slow people down, while ascending the chances of mistakes. The overload of information has created a paradox: the more people try to do, the less they achieve. The more humans are deluged with information, the less time they spend to assimilate. Switching from one task to another and back requires time, the so called “cognitive reorientation costs”. A ‘Basex’ report shows the dramatic consequences as they reveal that “most knowledge workers lose about 2.1 hours a day to constant interruptions and recovery time”.

Ultimately, coping with the issue of information overload requires willpower and self-control. Dosing the daily input by turning off mobiles and internet can be examined by everyone. Finding time to focus and filtering disturbing noises are essential when dealing with data overflow.

This paper has examined the enormous influence of the new media and the appropriate information overload on modern society. On the face of it, the access to information only has advantages for the people, but too much information may lead to a loss of concentration, a decline of productivity and a rising number of people suffering from psychological diseases. All in all, each person has to decide individually which information is important to know. Since the media landscape is still growing and more new devices get access to the public, the future might also be shaped by information overload.