Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Information Overload

I have been very stressed out these past couple of weeks with all the things that must be done. This isn’t the first time I’ve discussed this here, and it certainly won’t be the last. I’ve been busy both at home and work, I have family coming this weekend, am preparing for vacation soon, and trying to manage a few different projects that require more than just a date and time in my Malden. This is also the time when I need to do more yoga, but as luck would have it, I don’t have time for any. In addition to everything I need to get done, there is still more—there are those things that other people put on my plate. And while I could say no, they aren’t things I can easily say no to because they are things that need to get done and things I need to be involved in because they affect me.

But aside from all of the day-to-day nitty-gritty gotta-get-this-done things, I’ve also been feeling overwhelmed with all the technology lately. Don’t get me wrong, I love technology and I love all the things it can do for us. But sometimes, it’s just too much. With all the technology in the world, comes information streaming at us from every angle. And many times, it’s not good news—the bad economy, robberies, unemployment, terrorism, etc. I am very lucky that I haven’t been personally affected by any of these things. Still, it stresses me out to hear about them and to think about what could happen. I often have to tune out a lot of what I hear because otherwise, I just might get bogged down in all the bad “stuff.”

One way for me to de-stress and to focus on happy things is to write, specifically here on my blog. I average about two posts a week. I would love to write more, but unfortunately this is about all my schedule allows for. I don’t like to fall below that two-posts-per-week though, both for the fun of writing and for keeping my blog fresh and up-to-date. Sometimes, however, I feel like I’m writing gibberish just to write and post something. And sometimes I rush through posts so that I can get them done. I don’t feel that anyone will complain if I don’t regularly update my blog, but for myself, I like to get those posts out. A lot of times I end up pressuring myself to “just get it done.” And I hate feeling that way when it comes to blogging. I enjoy it immensely, and I don’t want to stop. I guess I just need to stop feeling guilty if I don’t fulfill my self-imposed quota. Life will go on if I get to a new post today or tomorrow or a week from now.

Of course, there are all the blogs that I read too. I love reading other people’s blogs and learning about their life experiences and possibly even adapting their tips and tricks to my own life. Lately, though, I’m just overwhelmed with all the blog posts and websites I feel compelled to check every day—email, Facebook, Twitter, Google Reader (which leads to other websites). I get very excited when I see new posts from my favorite bloggers/websites or when someone has tweeted to me, or when someone comments on my Facebook status. But it’s a lot to keep up with. Sometimes, when I open Google Reader, I hope that there aren’t any new posts, simply because there are already tons in my starred folder that I have yet to get to. Usually, I read through these posts on my lunch break—after I’ve checked in with my Twitter friends. I email anything I want to comment on (I’ve tried to comment from my iPod Touch but this only results in lost comments and a lot of frustration). But then it takes a day or two from there to comment and by then, people have moved on to the new post and my comment is moot. Or (and this is more likely the case), by the time I go back to the post, I can’t remember what the hell I wanted to say in the first place. Ah well.

And this overload is only from the Philofaxy-related blogs I follow. There are still hundreds more in my reader that I haven’t looked at in months—entertainment news, book and author updates, organizing tips and solutions, information on being Zen. Sometimes, I just feel like I’m drowning in a sea of information. And this doesn’t even address that fact that I work with information. It’s my job. I am an Information Specialist—in basic terms, a librarian—but still, that’s what we do these days. We’re no longer bun-wearing, cardigan-wearing, sensible-shoed, horn rimmed glasses on a chain, shushing people librarians. We help people find information from reliable sources, we help people better understand information sources. I work with computers all day long; I have to know new technology so that I can answer questions about it; I teach new technology to people; I find information from all kinds of sources, whether it be online or in books; I put information into pamphlets, fliers, posters, and our newsletter; I advertise new information, products and services; I catalog new books, which (if you haven’t been to a library in years) is all done on computers—the card catalog of old no longer exists (in most places). When I come home at night, the last thing I want to do is turn on the computer. Yet, sometimes I do, and that’s when I get sucked in, my time being used up before I even know it’s gone.

So what am I saying here? Nothing, really. I’m just babbling for the most part. I don’t intend to stop blogging. I won’t stop reading others’ blogs. I won’t close down any of my social media accounts. I’m definitely not quitting my job. I just need to unplug once in a while, if only for a day during the weekend. One of my favorite movies is Grown Ups—it’s definitely not the best movie made, but it’s funny and the moral is that sometimes you just need to unplug from this too-fast-paced world and get back to basics; get back to throwing stones in the lake; using paper cups and string in order to communicate; to sit, relax, and just be without all of that extra noise and devices vying for our attention.

I am very much looking forward to my vacation, where I will unplug for an entire week. (There is wi-fi available, so let’s see how I do). In the meantime, I’m still here, even if I’m a bit late to the party.

6 comments:

  1. I no longer work in front of a computer all day every day (though there are still those unavoidable days), but I can empathize. It's so hard to maintain that balance btwn enjoyable, fulfilling internet activity and soul-draining brain-frying internet compulsion. I cut down on the number of blogs I subscribe to, create "breathing space" in my blog-reading by subscribing to a few photography feeds, don't use Facebook or Twitter (I know!), have a (soft) internet curfew every evening, and I almost entirely step away from my computer every weekend. I realize I'm missing out on a lot by opting out of things like Facebook and Twitter, but I know that I can't function well without a lot of space and stillness.

    Take care of yourself, Kanalt! You make time for other people and commitments, but it's precisely when you're very busy that you must make yourself (your health) a priority. Whenever I'm over-extended I'm a big believer in delegating, in saying no to one thing every day, and in having media-free meals and snacks throughout the day.

    And you're not late for the party; you are the party!

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  2. kanalt I really enjoyed this. It is so true. I don't watch much television so I can drown out all the advertisements from there. Also I tend not to check blogs or twitter when I am at work in office (although sometimes I get caught in an interesting conversation when taking a 2min break. I am a bit more lax at home as I work longer hours when I work from home plus I get lonely as there is no one to talk to.

    I find twitter can be overwhelming so you may have realised that I don't push to have hundreds of twitter followers. I want to keep it manageable so I can chat with my lovely twitter friends like you! I have no idea hoe people cope with thousands!

    And now you have me picturing you in a bun with horn rimmed glasses. hehe. enjoy your vacation!

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  3. M Ng - What a sweet thing to say, that I am the party. Thanks! I really need to cut back on the blogs I subscribe to. Even though I don't read all of it, I see those numbers climbing and I feel guilty that I'm not getting to them. And who needs that? I will definitely take your advice and cut back on my Internet hours, especially in the evening and on weekends.

    CP - I don't watch much television either (another time waster). But the Internet, I can get so lost in it. I, too, have only a small amount of Twitter followers and I just recently cut ties with authors and musicians that I was following - I didn't read any of their stuff anyway, so why bother. It just stressed me out to see all those tweets. I should do the same with Facebook soon (don't worry Philofaxers - you're staying).
    Quite a vision, that stereotypical librarian, eh? ;)

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  4. Kanalt--Info overload is exactly how I feel so often, both at work and at home. I have to remind myself,though,that I have to be the gatekeeper and manager of what information I allow into my personal world. Your career won't allow you to tune out, I know.

    Protecting my downtime is what I am trying to do. I tend to get into a subject, research, read, digest, react, and act. If I did this for everything I was interested in, oh my! I set time limits for electronic media and print--I have so much to do and the same 24 hour day we all have. I wish I could just read, learn, and absorb information, but that's not going to happen anytime soon.

    I am taking two days to leave most media behind--an experiment--and plan to do a time study of Where My Time Goes. I found a printable on getbuttonedup.com to use and simply do some good old time tracking. I fear the results, especially regarding Twitter! Now THAT could make for a readable blog post. Maybe...

    Lastly, I hate to picture you opening your reader and thinking, "So many blogs to read...ahhh!" I will never, ever be disappointed if you read my meager posts long after they are published. :) Take care.

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  5. Wow, you are hard on yourself-- There is no gibberish on your blog. I for one love it!

    Have you considered paring down your blog subscriptions though? If I have more than 5 posts stacked up, I unsubscribe. If it's a blog I really love (like this one) there's no way I'm going to let 5 posts go by.

    I totally get what you are saying. One time the kids and I got rid of the TV. It was GREAT. Everybody was in a better mood, we found other things to do..unplugging (even for a while) can be really neat. I love technology, but it's also nice to read a real paper book by the light from an oil lamp...

    Enjoy the heck out of your vacation!

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  6. Sandra - One of my resolutions for July (as you probably already know) is to make more down time so that it's easier to unplug and feel more relaxed. I try to set time limits for all things electronic, but most of the time it's a matter of "let me just finish up answering emails/tweets/etc." I think I need to devote at least one day a week to being completely unplugged, for my own sanity. I'll start with that and see how it goes.

    Rori - I am hard on myself. I have learned that. And I'm not sure why, especially since I don't really feel that anyone else is hard on me. I just create all of these stupid rules and tasks for myself. I'm working on it - it's definitely a work in progress. However, I don't really think other people think my blog is gibberish. I just wonder sometimes if I couldn't be writing about something more substantial is all. I do plan on paring down the amount of blogs I subscribe to. I don't know when I'll get to it, but I have it written down, so it will get done at some point. Believe it or not, I did it not that long ago, but clearly I didn't get rid of as many as I should have. My husband often says we should get rid of cable. I'm not against it, except for this show, that show, football, etc. You see where this is going, right? It's just hard to pull that plug. But maybe... I love paper books and candles too. And I intend to enjoy the HELL out of my vacation. =D Thanks!

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