Information Overload

In our desperate wish to be seen as informed and intelligent, we are complicating our lives. Information is accessible today by so many mediums, radio, television, the internet, print and mobile applications. How could we not be smarter and more sophisticated than earlier generations? But sometimes, all this information makes me feel over-whelmed, not smarter. I’m going out on a limb admitting this, and I’m convinced that many people will not want to risk agreeing for fear of appearing ignorant. It reminds me of the story about the emperor’s new clothes.

Hans Christian Andersen’s story is about an emperor who pays a lot of money for some new magic clothes, which he’s told, “can only be seen by wise people” The clothes do not really exist, but the emperor does not admit he cannot see them, because that would mean he was not wise. Everyone else pretends to see the clothes too because, well, they don’t want to be seen as stupid either. It isn’t until a child shouts, “The emperor has no clothes on!” that the people realize how silly they’ve been.

Like the people in the fairy tale, we often agree to absurd ideas because we are afraid to appear ignorant. When will the child in us say enough is enough?

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3 thoughts on “Information Overload

  1. What is interesting about this is that it is not new. You should read a couple of books by William Powers. He discusses a lot about the ‘conundrum of connectedness.’ But it is not new. Even Seneca had a term for it back in Roman times ‘distringit librorum multitudo’ or “the abundance of books is distraction”, claiming there is an overload of information. I think if one sees it as information-overload they are really not focusing on what it is important. It IS a choice and knowing when to dive deep and when to skim is the key.

  2. Epsilon Targeting conducted a Consumer Channel Preference Study, and made the comment, “In the age of information overload, consumers prioritize what they read based on their level of trust in the source.” Their conclusions were that consumers are in charge and in the future will determine how they receive information in the least time-consuming way to avoid being deluged with information. They went on to say that effective marketers will use custom-designed research to better understand and leverage consumer relevance when spending their communication dollars. Interestingly print continues to be trusted as a source of information…social media was listed as the least trusted.

  3. Good point Cathy. Unless it is from a trusted friend people tend not to trust all the ads circulating on Social Media. Targeted Direct Mail is by far the most preferred method on most studies I have seen.

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