The Duncan Banner

November 17, 2012

‘Information overload’ clutters thought and memory

Jeff Kaley
The Duncan Banner

DUNCAN — Doing some cleaning in the den, I came upon a stack of the sticky notes that serve as my memory, and hidden behind that stack was, yeah, another stack of sticky notes:

We use the term “information overload” a lot these days, and I’m one of those folks who think the surge of info coming at us from the Internet and a myriad of other sources accelerates the growing trend of people believing anything they read, see or hear — as long as it agrees with their view.

“Information overload,” which became a popular phrase thanks to Albert Toffler’s book, Future Shock, gives people access to volumes of information, almost instantaneously. But it also lulls people into accepting information without knowing the validity of the content or being sensitive to how the content can be manipulated.

Toffler wrote: “When the individual is plunged into a fast and irregularly changing situation, or a novelty-loaded context, predictive accuracy plummets. He can no longer make the reasonably correct assessment on which rational behavior is dependent.”

Equally devious, the amount of information zinging through our gray matter comes at us from so many sources, it’s no wonder we’re becoming a society that can’t remember anything without having memory prompts, like sticky notes.

A memory expert once told me the brain is a giant filing cabinet containing a folder for each bit of knowledge we absorb, and each new folder pushes the other folders further back in the drawer.

Don’t know about you, but my filing cabinet sorely needs to be thinned out.

* T’other day, I realized it had been September since I’d flipped the pages of a wall calendar in my office. The calendar, by the by, came from the Alzheimer’s Association.

* There is one cool thing about this aging memory adventure: Every day you get to meet a lot of new people!

* “Anger is a killing thing: It kills the man who angers, for each rage leaves him less than he had been before  — it takes something from him.” Louis L’Amour wrote it.

* A 2011 study by the National Endowment for the Arts found only 40 percent of Americans 18 to 24 years old had voluntarily read literature in a 12-month period. Literature was defined as novels, short stories, plays or poetry.  

* What a paradoxical legacy has been created for Lance Armstrong. Armstrong opened the world of bicycle racing to Americans, but then we found out the competitive biking world is filled with more cheaters and liars than any other sport I can think of, including boxing.

* Seems to me following the Ten Commandments means more than displaying them.

* “Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves.” British statesman William Pitt said it in 1783, shortly after some colonists in North America gave Mr. Pitt’s country a lesson in the truth of the statement.

* Recently, at the end of a long and trying day, I was driving at the south end of Comanche and I passed Sorrell Nut House. I thought: Maybe I should check myself into that place.

Oh. It’s not that kind of nut house?

* Although you might lose your job for suggesting she visit your workplace, there’s a woman named Gloria Elliott in Roanoke, Va. who conducts “Jerk Training” seminars. An organizational development consultant, Elliott has helped more than 100 companies deal with obnoxious employees and bosses.

* As we enter what’s commonly called the “winter holiday season,” don’t forget Nov. 15 is National Philanthropy Day, Nov. 16 is Have a Party With Your Bear Day and Nov. 20 is Absurdity Day. Unfortunately, most of us have already failed to celebrate Deviled Egg Day on Nov. 2 and Bittersweet Chocolate With Almonds Day on Nov. 7. But I’ve already marked those on my 2013 calendar.

* If you think it’s expensive funding education, think about the cost of funding ignorance.

* I’m one of those folks who still loves to take a thing called a “record,” put it on a device called a “turntable,” which results in listening to music. If you’re the same, check out a wonderful piece called Ode to the Vinyl Record, by poet Thomas R. Smith.

* “The man who complains about the way the ball bounces is likely to be the one who dropped it.” So says Lou Holtz.

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