Information Overload

By Kavindu Fernando

Have you been in a situation where you have to go through a lot of emails, and countless notifications on social media? Or, have you been in a situation where you cannot choose where to put your attention because there are so many options and recommendations? Have you ever felt overwhelmed by those? Then you might have already faced an information overloaded situation.

Information overload could happen in many scenarios even in a clothing store or in a supermarket, but for the moment, let’s focus on digital platforms.

By definition, information overload is a state of being overwhelmed by the amount of data presented for one’s attention or processing.


Information overload happens mainly due to the rapid growth of digital content, especially social media. There are lots of it. Mainly due to the competition between the tech giants to gain more users. The best example is the recent product of Meta called threads.

There are 1 billion videos on YouTube alone. If someone wants to finish watching all the videos, it will take 18000 years. Simply said, our lifetime is not enough. If we watch one piece of content, With their rich recommendation systems, we feel like watching the next video, the next one, and the next. The same thing applies to Spotify, TikTok, and other Meta products.

With all those platforms, it's Simple to duplicate or share data. Causing information overload.


Then it comes to the next step. In 2004, psychologists identified a mentality called FOMO - which stands for fear of missing out. When there are a lot of notifications, we automatically tend to open them all one by one since we feel like we might miss something. That doesn’t stop there, we tend to scroll through those contents more often, and the more we consume them, the more the behind-the-scenes programs on those platforms will learn about us. Not only through the videos we watch, but even they learn through the things we search, even the things we chat with others.

Ultimately, we will be trapped in an endless chain of content, wasting our valuable time.

Impacts and solutions

Information overload affects our productivity, our ability to focus, and even our mental well-being. The constant influx of information can lead to decision fatigue, making it difficult to prioritize tasks effectively.

Interestingly enough, the tech itself gives us solutions for this information overload. We can simply set time limits for each app. Unsubscribe from useless content. Selectively remove unwanted things from the feed. Additionally, we can try “digital detox” from time to time to refresh our minds.

Most importantly, use common sense. Being mindful about what to spend time on is critically important. For example, we don't need to watch the entire 45-minute-long news broadcast with all the ads. We can simply go to a trusted website and search for them. We can use ad blockers to remove distractions while surfing the web. There are summarization tools that give briefings to save reading time. Usually, such tricks are not advertised since they affect the revenue of content creators.


In conclusion, while information overload is a byproduct of our digital age, it's not an uncontrollable challenge. We somehow have to live with it. By understanding its roots, being mindful of our technological consumption, and developing coping strategies, we can navigate this sea of information more effectively. Let's strive for a balance where technology serves us, rather than overwhelms us.