A lot of my blog posts seem to revolve around Starbucks. Which is odd, since I don't like coffee. But it isn't if you realize that I spend four working hours there per week with no distractions, other than the random but highly interesting conversations of people around me. Work often involves writing blog posts.
This one is a result of staring intently at my cup a while back and seeing the words, “Download our cup magic mobile app, then scan this cup to see it come to life.” Um, what? Sorry, but if I start seeing my paper cup come to life in the middle of a coffee shop, I'm going to suspect they've put something other than chai spice and nonfat milk in there.
Even now that I have a smart phone, I'm not sure why I would do that. Why do I need my cup to come to life? Why do I require it to start giving me information or entertainment, like some kind of disposable Charlie McCarthy, singing, dancing, and being annoying all at once? What kind of added value could it possibly give my two hours of distraction-free typing?
Maybe it's my introversion. I just prefer things that are supposed to be quiet and inanimate to remain that way. I don't read Stephen King or watch horror movies, so I have no expectations of my car, Barbie dolls, or cymbal-banging monkeys coming at me with ill intent. I'd like to keep it that way. Although I don't actually own any cymbal-banging monkeys. You never know where one is lurking.
I would rather interact with information on my own terms. I don't need it flying at me from every direction, even from the once-innocuous cup in my idle hand.
But I think, if research be accurate, it's not just me. If it were, things like the Information Overload Research Group would not exist, for instance. (http://iorgforum.org/) Ironic, a new group formed to generate information about . . . information overload. I wonder how many formats they publish their findings in.
But the answer, as in so many other things, lies with us. When do I say enough? When do I remain content for the things around me not to flash, beep, twirl, generate a coupon, or do anything? When do I erect the filters that say, “I don't need this information?” I don't have to let more “stuff” intrude on my peaceful cup of chai?
We didn't have to make that conscious choice before. Now, we do. It really is a choice not to engage. We forget we can 'just say no' to the intrusion. After all, if my cup promises me a world of excitement and knowledge I've never known, aren't I obligated to take it? Well, no.
That's why you'll no longer see me on Facebook or email most Sundays. I need time unplugged. It's why I never answer my home phone. Why there are technologies, TV programs, and gasp, even things to read, that are all well and good but to which I just say no. Enough is enough. My tenuous sanity is more important.
I'd love to hear your strategies for dealing with information overload. Thanks! And be careful of those coffee cups out there.