Information Overload – Choose What is Better

A recent post to Slashdot pointed out a new article at Wired entitled, Researcher, Info Overload Costs Economy. This article described the predicted problem of the year for 2008, information overload. The article highlighted the overload of emails and the adverse impact upon business productivity. Jesdanun writes, “He estimates that such disruptions cost the U.S. economy $650 billion in 2006.”

Is the economy the only thing at risk? If you are able, think back to the days when you did not have the Internet at your beck and call. How was life different for you? In what ways has this immediate access to information improved your life? In what ways has it detracted from your quality of life or perhaps drawn you away from that which was more important? Have you ever experienced anxiety about your inability to keep up with the latest news and trends? Was this anxiety greater or less in the days prior to widespread access to the Internet?

I have probably already referenced this before, but it is worth repeating. In Technopoly, Neil Postman reminds us that what may be most important today is not necessarily learning how to use every technology, but rather to better understand how technology uses us. Unless we seek to hand over our lives, beliefs, time, energy, character, and legacy to the latest trends and technologies, we are wise to heed Postman’s words. Perhaps this is a timely article, as 2007 comes to an end and we begin to consider goals and priorities for the New Year. What will determine how each of us spends our time and energy in 2008?

I am reminded of an account in the Christian Scriptures where Jesus comes to the house of his friends in Bethany. There are two sisters, Mary and Martha. Martha, we are told, was very busy, occupied with all of the preparations that one might expect for such an honored guest and friend. Mary, on the other hand, sat with others at the feet of Jesus while he was teaching or perhaps sharing about his recent journey. Martha was not happy about this.

From Luke 10:

“But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”
“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

As we consider the myriad of urgent tasks and pressing information of 2008, may we each choose what is better.