Information overload or lack of discrimination?

This morning, I published a guest article, “The Truth About Information Overload,” by David Bohl, which is a bit out of date. In it, the author only specifies the overload from television, email and instant messaging.

Today, we are also hit with news, demands, questions, ads, chats, writings, audios, videos and more from so many sources it’s difficult to count them. The prevalence of instant communication devices such as ordinary cell phones, smart phones and tablet computers have added to the internet noise.

Everywhere you go, you see people texting, tweeting, conversing, taking pics and sharing photos, checking or updating their Facebook accounts, taking to others they can actually see on their phones’ video functions, watching movies on their phones or tablets. We’re connected 24/7/365. Ha. Just think of all the folks who scoffed at Dick Tracy’s two-way wrist radio and two-way wrist TV.

It’s exciting and fun. It’s also overwhelming and nerve-wracking. Especially for those poor suckers whose employers, colleagues and clients can now interrupt them anytime, anywhere. Privacy has become a hard-to-get experience.

So, why publish a dated article that doesn’t cover tips for avoiding the tension and stress of the information overload? Because the specifics don’t matter. The bottom line is always the same.

It’s not that we neet to control the information. It’s that we need to control ourselves. We need to each decide, as individuals with different needs and tolerances, how we control the use of technology. And that’s what Bohl advises. I like his simple, no frills advice. It applies to all our technologies. Including the ones coming in the future that none of us are yet expecting. Yes, even the iPhone 5.

The technology is a good thing. Helpful and waiting for our creative use of it. We have the choice about when and how and what to do with it.

We can actually turn of our phones. We can just sit and think about things peacefully, all by ourselves. We can compose our feelings before dealing with calls from annoying people. We can put strict filters on our emails. We can refuse to read or answer some emails. We can refuse to accept video chats. We can tell others that if they want to contact us by phone, they can use their voices rather than their thumbs. We can limit ourselves to how much time we spend on phones, TV, computer games, internet and face-to-face contact.

I carry a cell phone. Not a smart phone. I use it if I need to make a call while I’m out. Otherwise, it’s turned off. I do not use it while driving. I seldom use it while a passenger — it’s too distracting for the driver. Soon I will succumb to my desire for an iPhone. When I get it, I’ll use it in a similar way to my cell phone. I’ll be able to turn it on and comparison price shop. I’ll be able to take photos to send ideas to my email. I’ll be able to dictate articles and email them for later publication. If I have to wait for someone or some event, I will probably play a game. (Oh, come on, of course I’ll get game apps!) But I still won’t do any of that while driving. And I still won’t be available to incoming calls unless they are pre-arranged and absolutely necessary. Why? For the same reason I have email filters and different email addresses for different functions. I want control over who contacts me and when and where they do it. I have a life.