Information Overload

It’s a great time to be a 20-something. I am coming in to my own. Learning who I am, what I believe, and how I fit in to the larger framework of society. I am exploring opportunities in my career, growing in my marriage, and celebrating with friends and family as they begin new chapters in their lives—careers, weddings, beginning families, etc.

It’s an exciting, fast-paced time. I love it.

Mirroring my own experience, the world around me is also moving at a rapid speed. Everything, everyone, is online. Business transactions, social interactions, general knowledge, shopping, education, banking and complex algorithms are all at my fingertips. All it takes to sign a deal or make a date is a few taps on the keyboard. It truly simplifies many parts of life. To deposit a check, I take a picture of it on my iPhone, and it is automatically entered in to my checking account online. Seriously?!? That is crazy cool.

But, in other ways, having all this knowledge and so-called “power”, is dangerous. Many days, during lunch, I scan the news online–everything from Fox News, to the Wall Street Journal, Yahoo, to Shape Magazine (oh yes, I’m a fan!). But today, as I was mindlessly clicking through a slide show of pictures of foods that are “harmful” to our systems to ingest, I came across a picture of sprinkles. Sprinkles! Where the ONLY ingredient, one would think, is sugar! Well, the caption read something to the effect of the artificial preservatives causing cancer.  Ok. Cross those off my list.

But, really? Should I truly worry about the rainbow (yes, rainbow) sprinkles I eat probably twice a month as a splurge at Coldstone?! It will certainly be in the back of my mind for sure…

And so the cycle continues. Often times, if it is written in black and white, it is taken as fact. But instant information, does not necessarily make it accurate information.

Another harmful effect of such an all-encompassing database of information, is the instant gratification it inevitably instills in to the mindset of many everyday  internet-users. Shopping is not just for girls, middle schoolers,  or those willing to brave mall parking lots anymore. It is for everyone. Need a reservation? No need to even call the restaurant—Open Table will painlessly pencil you in with a preference chosen online. Minor aches and pains? Don’t wait for a doctor appointment—self-diagnose with WebMD.

Don’t get me wrong, I am very glad to be living in the internet-age. I am an avid blogger (obviously), Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest fan, and even my job consists of dealing with ONLINE travel agencies. It’s a prodigious time—exciting, dynamic, and animated with constantly updated news—bright and shiny ideas.

But I also need to remind myself to question what I read online. To know what I truly believe, not just what is the fad of the moment. To stop before I impulsively make a decision or a purchase just because it is right in front of me, and to know that the internet, and everything I find on it, is not the foundation of my life, or the final authority on any given topic, concept or debate.

So as I happily browse the internet for fun and facts, I try to always  remember to give myself time to sign off-line, and to start interacting with the much slower-paced, yet sweet and simple world that tends to pass me by.

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