Are you familiar with the word infobesity? Also known as ‘information overload’, it is a term that has been around for ages, but today it is more current then ever.
More and more studies are being made on the reason behind and effects of infobesity. And the reason is simple. Our ability and need to stay connected all the time means that we are constantly being over flooded with information. Our frequent checking of e-mails, real time news updates, Facebook, twitter and other social media has been proven to damage our health, make us stressed, affect our decision making and productivity and in worst case, even make us depressed.
Nearly half of us suffering from infobesity
A study made back in 1997 found that 50% of the management in Fortune 1000 companies where interrupted more than six times per day by the e-mails they received. If you compare the use of the Internet now, to 1997, one can only assume that the situation is much worse today.
A recently published study suggests that nearly half of all office workers in the UK are suffering from infobesity, and that 40% of them feel that they need to check their e-mails constantly just to see if they got any important work mail.
So why don’t we stop over-consuming if it makes us unhealthy?
It is easy to blame the office culture, and sure many employer might demand of their employers to always be available and reply to e-mails within half an hour no matter the time of the day. We in the travel and event business are especially aware of this, where we need to be available for as well customers as suppliers around the clock to not miss anything.
But that does not explain why we still spend so much of our free time checking twitter and Facebook feeds, even though we really don’t need to.
Infobesity as an addiction
A study made at the MIT University in Cambridge, USA suggests that infobesity is similar to real obesity and food addiction, as actually the same processes are taking place in the brain.
”The brain registers high-fat foods as highly pleasurable, via
the mesolimbic dopamine projection from the ventral
tegmental area to the nucleus accumbens . The
neurotransmitter dopamine is also implicated in the reward
circuitry of Internet interaction – particularly during acts of
reciprocity, like those that drive popular online social networking site games.”
Click here to see the whole report
People that are suffering from stress and depression often seek comfort in eating high caloric food, because it provides a soothing effect when it activates the mesolimbic dopamine pathways. It works as a temporary stress reliever and gives you a sense of well-being. This leads to overconsumption of food and our reward system eventually adapts and requires even more snacks and food to keep the same level of satisfaction. The researchers at MIT propose that there is very little difference in the way we over consume food and information.
They suggest that just as an obese person can be given a diet plan to start to consume food in a healthier way, we might need a information diet plan, teaching us how to use technology and information in a healthier way.
The danger of never being bored
Besides from making us stressed, depressed and affecting our decision making the constant access to information through our smart phone can also have another devastating effect – we never have to be bored! Although this might seem as a positive thing, research has shown that boredom actually helps us being creative. Being bored signals to the mind that we are in need of fresh ideas and stimulates creative thinking.
At Travel Out There we have developed a Technology Detox Program – where all the participants have to leave their phones, tablets and computers at the hotel and head out for a day in disconnection and enjoying the moment. We guarantee you will come back as a fresher, more productive and creative team
Of course this is just a kick-start. In order to really beat the information overload you need a long-term plan, both as a company and in your private life. We can help to develop this with you during the Technology Detox program, specially suited to your company’s needs and routines.
But until then, why not start by trying out some info detox on your own.
Here are some great and simple tips from Lifehacks.
1. Switch off your phone when you get home from work.
2. Don’t use your phone on your way to and from work. Listen to music or read a novel.
3. Don’t access Facebook and Twitter for one week.
4. Don’t read any material that is not uplifting and motivational.
5. Turn off all email notifications or any other social media messages.
6. Do not watch the television for one week.
7. No newspapers, online news or any other form of world news access.