Let's be honest, we humans were caught off guard. Technology has allowed us to disappear into our own world and disengage from reality. It is now a common routine to fiddle with our phones, go through apps that are actually a complete waste of time and have one last late night rendezvous with Twitter, Facebook or Whatsapp.
When it's time to hit the zzz train I place my iPhone right next to my bed and I hope while I sleep I get to digest the endless stream of breaking news, alerts and status updates through osmosis. It feels peaceful knowing I can wake up any time and see what is going on in the world.
When i wake, everyone is welcoming each other with an avalanche of posts and comments. The world has been virtualised and digitally seduced beyond comprehension - people are practically walking, working and sleeping with a constant stream of social media updates.
I recently read "Alone Together" by Sherry Turkle which I totally connected with. Sherry's Ted talk is also worth watching as she discusses her belief that technology is taking us to places we don't necessarily want to go and these devices are so psychologically powerful they can can fundamentally change who we are. Even though we are more connected than ever we are ultimately alone together.
For a digital junkie, today's world is the equivalent of waking up in Mr Wonka's Chocolate Factory as a repressed chocoholic. To put the level of information and data being created now on a daily basis into perspective, Eric Schmidt (former Google CEO) has said that every 2 days we now create as much information as we did up to 2003. That's right, every two days we are creating more information than existed prior to 2003. Let's just say, this is not a good trend for anyone already suffering from digital overload.
Digital overload starts to creep up on you as your tolerance to multiple screens and devices increases while at the same time your tolerance towards other people decreases. Digital overload can sneak up on you when you least expect it, so it's important to be aware of the warning signs, such as weekend marathon binges on Breaking Bad, phantom buzzing in my pocket (even when my iPhone is on the table), operating more than three digital devices simultaneously or having a panic attack when you hear about some cool site or box-set you've never heard of.
Ex Twitter founder Evan Williams in this article rightly claims that most of the news we digest daily is absolutely useless and we need to focus our time on meaningful ideas that create greater clarity in our lives and work.
I have to confess that I love Digital Media and especially Social Media, so I bring all this on myself quite willingly. However I have given all this some thought and I came to a realisation that in order to beat digital overload I need to be more competent and selective in my daily undertakings.
"One day you we will wake up and there won't be any more time, to do the things we've always wanted to do so do it now". Paulo Coelho
In my opinion we all need to be more selective than ever in how we invest our limited time on this tiny blue planet and focus on the people that matter in our lives, meaningful experiences & creative ideas.
In my next blog post I will describe the steps I took to towards reducing digital overload in my life. For now I'll leave you with this thought.