Opinion: The dangers of information overload

Albert Fisler is a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected]

Albert Fisler

Smartphones seem to be the icon of the decade as their popularity and complexity grow with each coming year. It’s easy to understand their fame, as they put so many things, such as email, texting, calls, apps and music, all at your fingertips. But with so much focused on one device, it takes the user’s focus away from other things.  

The amount of information that the average person today is exposed to has greatly increased in the past few decades, and these smartphones help channel all this information. However, it’s easy to see how this can be quite overwhelming upon realizing what these distractions can lead to. I can’t say how many times I’ve personally watched people run into each other or even walls and doors just from looking at their phones.

I myself am no exception. I’ve passed my class or begun to walk the wrong way on the Esplanade just because I was looking at an email or trying to skip a song. These phones are always with us, in our pockets, purses or backpacks, and we always have access to them with the urge to pull them out in the midst of any pause during our day. I mean, why simply wait in line when you can check the news or text back your friend about the weekend?

But there are certain places where these distractions should be left alone. According to Distraction.gov, a quarter of teens respond to a text message once or more every time they drive and 20 percent of teens and 10 percent of parents admit that they have extended, multi-message text conversations while driving. Out of the list of average things that people do while driving, texting is considered the most dangerous because it takes visual and motor attention away from the car and road.  

With so much access to information and communication at our fingertips, it’s understandable why we become so trigger-happy with our smartphones, even while operating a vehicle. When your friend sends multiple texts asking where you are, it’s tough not to pull out your phone at a stop light and tell them you are on your way. However, Distraction.gov reports that for drivers 15-19 years old involved in fatal crashes, 21 percent of the distracted drivers were using their cellphones.

 

All the information being presented to people on a daily basis causes alertness to jump around each time we hear the tone of an arriving text message. It’s important to remember keep our attention narrowed and finish one thing at a time, as well as choosing what information is important and what can wait.