For the past 5 years, I have been living as a functioning Infoholic.
These are the signs:
The first thing I do when I wake up is check emails and Facebook, and then NBA scores and news. I tell myself I do this “to wake my brain up”, but the truth is that I do it because I am addicted.
When I am with my beautiful daughters, there are many times when I am checking Facebook, instead of listening to what they are saying or watching them play. I sometimes get annoyed with them for getting in the way of my information-gathering habit.
I usually look up trivial facts during each movie I watch: What else has this actor been in? Who wrote this screenplay? It’s become quite normal to tweet during TV events, but I struggle to watch a whole movie nowadays because of my reduced concentration span.
A few days ago, my iPhone broke. I went a few hours without it. Then I realised I’d gone a whole day. Then three days. And nothing bad happened. I read a book. A whole book, not just the article about it on Wikipedia. I felt liberated, as though I am not at anyone else’s beck and call. The constant worry was gone, and I felt my brain starting to work at full speed again as the data haze started to disappear. The information stopped becoming so immediately abundant, but a visit to a library reminded me that there was still more information available than I could possibly consume.
John Naish, author of the book Enough, lives in Brighton UK without a mobile phone. When I first heard that, it sounded impossible. But maybe he is making a wise choice. Maybe we don’t need our gadgets as often as we think we do. Maybe the constant flow of information is paradoxically making us less informed. Maybe our inability to be bored, is actually getting in our brain’s way from doing the sorting and indexing required to make new creative connections. Maybe we’ll soon realize that our cultural and creative progress is being held back, and we need to move past this information addiction that so many of us seem to suffer from.
But for now, my iPhone is back. My ipad is always nearby. My Facebook feed is just a click away, wherever I am. And my daughters have started to ask constantly for the ipad or the phone, and they get really, really annoyed if they aren’t allowed to use them…