Sunday, November 4, 2012

Disconnect to reconnect

Lately I've come to the realisation that I have contracted what I thought was a very modern affliction - infobesity. "What?" I hear you ask. Fundamentally, it boils down to the fact that I'm taking in a magnitude of information beyond my ability to assimilate it all. I confess much of my spare moments are spent reading whatever I can lay my eyes on, flicking from email to book to website to blog to twitter in order to take in as much content as I can. This would be ok if I had control over it, but unfortunately I don't think I do anymore. I feel like I'm constantly thirsty despite the sheer volume I'm digesting.

Knowing that I'm just about to advise you to stop reading this and shut down your computer, I better get straight to the point, hadn't I? Well I think I've discovered two main causes.

Firstly, I have FOMOOI. This is a bit like FOMO (fear of missing out), but it's not an experience I'm worried about. Rather it's a fear of missing out on information. Each tasty morsel leads to another and then another, and despite feeling well and truly full I continue to stuff myself with words and images. I'm constantly tempted by a catchy title, the promise of wisdom or a yet more gorgeous graphic. Yet I worry if I stop I might miss out on some important snippet about the particular topic of interest, of which unfortunately I have many, that may lead to some life-changing break though.

The second cause I believe stems from feeling compelled to take in the mass of information by outside forces. How many unread emails do you have in your email inboxes demanding to be fed? How many unread books on your shelves want to be admired? How many unwatched downloaded movies do you have in your media player? Have you read all of today's Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and Flipboard streams? How many unread articles in your 'Read it Later' app?

What are you reading?:

By now you probably get where I'm coming from. It's not so modern. Alvin Toffler had it right back in the 1970's in his bestselling book 'Future Shock' where even back then he talked about 'information overload'. He thought that the presence of too much information made it difficult for a person to understand the issue at hand and ultimately to make a decision. I couldn't agree more - the more I read the less clarity I have. I find my attention span is waning and I'm skimming at best. It's a surface life.

It can't go on - I'm mentally exhausted. Worst of all I'm finding this obsession with information is sometimes keeping me from connecting with my real life. My friends and family don't care if I have emptied my inbox or read the latest article about 'How to give your work that edge'. But they do care that I spend time with them in person, alert, fully present, actively listening, observing and interacting with joy. Afterall, isn't real life the best source of knowledge?

If this resonates with you I ask you to join me in taking on these seven missions for a day, a week, then maybe a month in attempt to slow down what you take in making space to assimilate and reconnect.

Here's what I challenge you to do:
  1. Read one book at a time. Choose carefully, like it was the last book that you'll ever get. Savour every word, the writing style, the sound of the pages turning. Don't start another until you finish it.
  2. Don't 'link off'. When reading something on the web, if tempted to 'link off' to another site, don't. Save/write down the name/URL of the site to a list and don't look at the list for another week. If after that time you still really want to read the contents of these links, then do so, but one at a time and mindfully.
  3. Don't save articles to 'read later' apps. I know this conflicts with item two, but seriously, when do you ever go back and read the articles?
  4. Read magazines in one sitting. If you're like me you have a few half-read, must finish mags lying around. Finish them up in one sitting, photograph any bits you love and then give them away to someone who will love them. Or just give them away if you know you'll never read them.
  5. Reassess who you follow on Twitter/Facebook/Pinterest/email and cut out the noise. If there are people/pages you find you always skim over, unfollow them, and create a social media wish list of people/pages you will reconnect with if time permits. Then your time spent reviewing is out of conscious choice and those people you follow know you're truly listening.
  6. Archive unwatched media. Someone gave you a few series and you haven't had time to watch them. They keep asking you have you watched it yet? Don't let it get in the way of life. Archive it off or if you're never going to watch it, delete it. 
  7. Now, put down your book, shut down the computer, turn off the TV and go and play
Disconnect to reconnect:


  1. This is a great post, Karina. I'm totally guilty of taking on too much info that I'm just skimming the things I read... not really digesting it. And I love your seven missions! Will definitely be more mindful about implementing these. Thanks for sharing :)

  2. Love this post Karina - will be sharing it tomorrow. As someone who loves to read, research and learn i definitely suffer from information overload and fear of missing out on that information and great reading materials!

  3. Infobesity! We need to make this a pop culture catchphrase...without spending all our time online. :) Yes, completely agree. Especially about the link off. I find myself reviewing pinterest / twitter / fb when I can't sleep despite the fact that they never relax me. They just peak my interest. Next thing I know 30 minutes has passed and I'm even further from sleep than I was before. You've help solidify my new resolution, night time audiobooks for me!

  4. I seem to spend all my time lately in information overload, this is a timely reminder to slow down, tune out for a while, then when I come back savour each reading experience rather than jumping from one item to the next in a frenzy of fact finding.


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