As I become older, I grow more and more certain that most people are idiots. Especially the smart, ambitious, driven and successful ones – they tend to be the biggest idiots of them all. Every day I get to watch them struggle with problems they have invented for themselves to the point of completely wrecking their minds and burning out. Which would make me rather concerned if these so called problems were actually real.
Let me give you an example: a lot of smart people on the internet talk about information overload. There is this notion that we are currently “bombarded” with information at a rate that his beyond our capacity to process it. Yes, bombarded tends to be the term that is used to describe the phenomenon. As in shelled with explosive artillery ordnance. As if the information was somehow forced upon you. They make it as if you actually had to actively dodge the internet or something.
Please tell me when was the last time you woke up only to find Mark Zuckerberg hovering over your bed waiting to stuff a big information hose down your throat and start pumping your Facebook feed directly into your stomach the second you open your eyes? When was the last time Larry Page and Sergey Brin loaded all your emails into a big trebuchet and launched them directly at your face? When was the last time you had to leap out of the way to dodge a massive reddit info dump?
Information overload my ass. Lets face it, our current input and output methods really suck in terms of bandwidth. There is no such thing as information torrent. There is no bombardment here. We consume the internet via tiny screens controlled via keyboards or touch. It is a serial pipe that can only deliver one narrow bandwidth stream into your brain by the way of your eyes and maybe also ears. I don’t know about you, but I cant really consume more than one information source at a time – at least not when I want to mainline it for high retention.
The internet might be an digital ocean of information but the only way of consuming it that we have right now is sucking at it with a silly straw, one gulp of data at a time. That’s is all we are physically capable of, both in terms of our technology and our biological capacity to intake information. By necessity it is an active process. This wealth of information streams we are supposedly accosted with do not actually exist in the space we physically inhabit. The information does not float around in the air, forcing itself upon you through your pores. To access it you need an electronic device of some sort: a phone or a computer. Having said device in your pocket however is not enough to get information. You actually have activate it and operate it with your hands (or voice) and read (or listen) to the information it streams. In other words, you actually have to work to get the information out of the damn device.
Which is precisely why I can’t understand the problem people have with this so called “information overload”. Almost every day I hear someone talking about deleting their Facebook or quitting Twitter. There is a bullshit buzzword going around now called “Inbox Zero” or something like that. To me this is beyond stupid. I’ve been using email, social media for years now – I’ve been on these things longer than most people were even aware of them. I was on Facebook back when it still required a .edu address from a participating university. I’ve been on twitter back when it was just us nerds tweeing about programming from fucking flip phones. Currently I follow close to 500 people on Twitter and I still don’t have any issues with information overload. Do you know why?
Because I don’t give a fuck.
You see, I have developed this wonderful system for managing my social media and information sources. Whenever I feel like tweeting, I tweet. Whenever I want to read some tweets, I pull up my stream, and flick my mouse wheel (or phone screen) for a bit to scroll a screen-full or few down, scanning the page for funny and/or interesting stuff. I hit a star here, re-tweet button there then I put it down and do something else. Same applies to Facebook, Reddit and just about everything else. Some days I don’t do any of that at all because I’m busy, preoccupied of just don’t feel like it.
Which is not to say I don’t like these services. I love them. I think what they provide has a lot value. I like to be plugged in. I’m an infovore. I thrive on a steady information diet. I just don’t understand how social networks could possibly overwhelm or burn you out to the point where you don’t want to use them anymore.
I mean, if your information intake is overwhelming you then why on earth do you keep trying to suck an ocean via a silly straw? That’s just beyond idiotic. If something you’re doing for fun is not enjoyable anymore, then don’t fucking do it. If you run out of fucks to give, stop giving a fuck. It is as simple as that. If you are overwhelmed by the torrent of information you are exposed to, I have news for you: it’s your own damn fault. It’s not the social media. It’s not the internet. It’s not the 24 hour news cycle. It’s not streams, feeds and youtube playlists. It is you being an idiot. Put the fucking straw down and stop sucking before you hurt yourself.
I guess some people have issues filtering their information sources, but same advice applies here too: don’t give a fuck. It is the ultimate filter really. Unless you are looking for something specific in which case you simply need to right set of keywords, and zero fucks to give about non-relevant information. Sure, it is easy to spend a whole day binging on Wikipedia or TV-Tropes but once again, it is not like those sites are forcibly pushing the information into your eyeballs. If you spend hours aimlessly surfing and procrastinating instead of getting shit done, it is your own damn fault. I really wish the internet was a hydrant that blows information into your face at gale speed and you can just sit there and absorb but it does not work that way. You have to work that silly straw and suck hard on it to get any data out of your LCD screen and into your brain. Your problem is poor aim and lack of focus.
If you are in your teens or early twenties and you have this problem, I have only one thing to say to you: what the fuck is wrong with you? You were born into this world! You don’t even fucking know life without the internet. Older people at least have an excuse because they didn’t have it when they were young. Their generation was taught that once they get a degree or two they will never have to learn anything new again, ever. So they are kinda hoping they can die (or at least retire) before computer illiteracy becomes a crippling disability. But you have no excuses. This is your turf, your world and your universe. You should be running laps around me, and the fact that you are not makes me seriously concerned for the future of humanity. You are like a fish that can’t swim and that’s actually kinda pathetic. Fix your self!