TEEN TAKE: Information Overload

LAUREN-200x300by Lauren Galley, HFM Teen Commentator

HFM welcomes Lauren Galley to our staff to offer a teen’s perspective on the issues we address in the magazine.

Today Lauren pens her thoughts on “Information Overload,” which appears in the May 2013 issue of HFM.

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Information Overload!! We’re all victims of its crushing effect, especially teens. But we are not just passive receivers of this information, we also tend to over-consume it.. Teens eat up way too much information repeatedly and constantly, forgetting the option to filter things out.

Personally, I cope with information overload by taking a little time off from whatever I’m doing to inhale and exhale deeply at intervals so that I can recover my outlook and frame of reference.

By accepting a break from my busy life, I distance myself from instinct to multitask, studying while watching tv, texting, etc. mindlessly. 

My frustration with society is the smart phone. I have seen families in their living room playing a game with each other, while simultaneously they are on their separate cell phones with little audible dialogue to each other. I find it sad that my generation no longer has real conversations within a whole family unit. Knowledge is power, nevertheless an over load of information will make you want to bang your head on the wall unless you know how to sift through it.

This is my filter method: I concentrate on what has an effect on my life and my destiny, disregarding the rest. Media bombards us with information 24/7. We tend to take in all we see on television or everything we read on the internet. Very few references can be relied on to supply correct and dependable details, so most references can be set away without even thinking about your-asthma-info.com. This leaves us with a sensible quantity of data to consider and deal with, making our brains much more organized. Only the important stuff needs to be stored on a mental hard drive, the rest can be forgotten.

When overburdened, take a few days rest from your computer! The reason we have a weekend is so we don’t burn-out on our jobs, whether that be school or work. Use this time wisely and give your brain a break! It might seem hard at first, but pretty soon it will become a habit and your stress level will thank you.

It’s my belief that information overload occurs because it can. We are increasingly presented with superior technology to communicate with, nevertheless when everybody is speaking, who is hearing, who is listening to what is in fact going on? To use a comparison, it is a bit like cars and streets. The more cars we have the more occupied the streets get, making driving more difficult and dangerous causing frustration! The difficulty is not information overload, but our lack of ability to sort out and block the insignificant. Unneeded information can be business like reading too many books or reports that you are not interested in, playing games, or being compelled to take part in an event or activity with a colleague or relatives which you find uninteresting.

My teen generation has multiple choices of technology literally at their fingertips. As I sit on my couch and write this column, I have my laptop, my cellphone, and my television feeding me information. The sound of a text message, the swish of an email and the alert of breaking news on TV are sensory-driven reminders that my information intake will soon reach full capacity. .

I just heard that HFM Managing Editor Sara Stephens recently attended a funeral for a local 18-year-old girl who died in a car crash, as the result of texting and driving. This is yet another example of our enslavement to the information that injects itself into our daily lives. Being a teenager myself, I can attest that we drive with our music louder than we should, our friends are laughing and talking with us, and then we get that “all important” text that we feel we “have to” answer right away. We feel invincible, and many times it takes a death for the message to hit close to home. I know some of you think it seems “cool” to text and drive. There’s nothing cool about the fact that texting while driving is as fatal as consuming alcohol and operating a vehicle. In my opinion, the offense should result in harsh punishment. I encourage all teens to keep it simple, avoiding the allure of today’s all too pervasive information–especially when we are driving.

In summary, I say give your brain a break and focus instead on the task at hand, leaving unnecessary technology behind. 

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