Consider newborns. When we first lay eyes on the world around us, each feeling interrupts our brains. There are colors, shapes, sounds, movement, and people completely unknown to us. Our brain does not yet know which of these adventures to prioritize and to ignore, so our attention jumps from sensation to sensation. Slowly over time, we learn to differentiate between the elements of our surroundings which are important and those that are not. We figure out how to properly filter out the unceasing deluge of advice swarming our perceptions. We develop.
This filtering process is significant because the brain does not respond well to being overworked. It favors things to run smoothly and economically, which it will best when it’s focusing on a couple different items at once. Furrowed brows are the outward signs of brains in the limits of their processing capacities. A number of the things we attempt to do with our brains will immediately examine these limits–such as placing out to master complex calculus or learning how to read sheet music. Only with experience and accumulated knowledge can our brains safely navigate learning together with simplicity and efficiency.
When it comes to getting our information from the world wide web, we are all somewhat like children–we have limited attention and we’re not always sure where to direct it. It can be tricky to limit how much info we consume whenever there’s always something new waiting for a click. And, before we know it, an abundance of messy and complex advice has infiltrated our minds. If our processing strategies do not keep pace, our online explorations create strained confusion instead of informed clarity. The focus is, after all, a finite resource.
Let us take a look at how it works, and how we could maximize the time we spend our focus.
1 fascinating psychology research illustrates exactly how finite our focus can be. Researchers needed participants to watch a movie of 2 groups of people passing a ball from person to person. 1 group wore white tops, the other wore black. Participants were asked to count how many times those wearing white-handed the ball. So far so good. But what initially looks like a task of ignoring the subjects wearing black takes an interesting turn when someone in a dog suit casually strolls to the spectacle, stands in the center of the game, and thumps its chest. The dog, clearly, should be a direct distraction and readily apparent, yet only half the participants spotted it. The end: too many demands on our attention blind us to all.
Distraction has ties to forgetfulness. As we have researched previously, for humans to recall information, it has to successfully endure the filtering processes of their sensory, short-term, and working memory programs. Only then can it be stowed away in long-term memory. The location where we attend and consider information is in working memory and attempting to collect too much info by means of this system contributes to a significant reduction in performance, both in relation to processing the data and in storing it for later usage. Just how much is too much? George Miller’s research from the 1950’s suggested that the limit was 7 items (plus or minus two), but more recent research has discovered that the magical number might be as low as 4. Which means that, structurally, the mind can only do so much at the same time. There goes multitasking.
Silicon Valley leader Mitchell Kapor has stated that:”Obtaining your data off the Internet is like taking a drink from a fire hydrant.” On the Internet, there’s a guide to what, remarks abound, and you will find far more interesting facts and thoughts than anyone knows what to do with. So much so that collectively we write as much in daily online as all the books in the Library of Congress combined. Where is this information storm taking us? And is our limited attentional system going to keep up?
More information Isn’t always better info
There are currently around 47 billion web pages on the internet, while the amount of Internet users has surpassed 3.5 billion. A Nielsen report indicates that we spend an hour more online daily now than we did just one year ago, with most of that increase coming from moment spent on mobile devices. As more people jump on board, our reliance on the Internet grows. When Google went down to get a couple of minutes at 2013, it required 40 percent of Internet traffic using it. Which is not that surprising when you consider that there are far more than 58,000 Google searches every second. For better or worse, search engines have significantly shifted our behavior. In terms of our mental processing power, having replied so close at hand surely reduces the cognitive load onto our mental resources.
Yet when it comes to understanding abstract theories and making complicated decisions, too much info causes its own set of problems. For instance, it can induce a sense that we must read and consume more than is actually required. We can get stuck in a stasis called analysis paralysis, in which we set out to make a deliberate decision by considering every last detail, but rather find overwhelmed and struggle to make any decision at all.
The first study to document this effect came from a business professor at Columbia University. She set up a booth at a grocery store and offered samples of a selection of jams. She wanted to know how people might behave as presented with a variety of 6 jams in contrast to 24. What she found was that people originally responded favorably to the extra options–60 percent of people approached the booth, in comparison to 40% when just 6 jams were presented. But when it came to making a purchase, the amounts reversed dramatically: 30% of individuals bought from the variety of 6 jams, while only 3 percent purchasing from the larger selection.
Over time this impact compounds. The more choices we have to make, the greater the decrease in the quality of our choices. Psychologists refer to the effect as decision fatigue or mental fatigue, and one striking illustration of this comes from the judicial procedure, in which judges have been found more likely to grant parole after having come back from a break and a bite to eat. Charted out with time, positive rulings gradually dropped from approximately 65% to nearly zero, then returned to 65% following some rest. Rather than ruling case by case, the accumulative weight of earning a decision after decision eventually snowballed into mental exhaustion, which makes the judges less prepared and able to correctly evaluate cases later daily.
To get a more universal example, a 2010 poll of 1,700 professionals from the U.S., UK, China, South Africa, and Australia found that 59% of respondents had experienced a sizable increase in the quantity of data they were needed to proceed in the workplace, and 62 percent believed that the quality of the work suffered at times because of this information overload. Adding to the headwind against clear thinking, study out of Stanford University suggests that overthinking diminishes our creativity, which makes revolutionary solutions more challenging to come by.
Attempting to handle too much information obviously interferes with our ability to process the information effectively. This is really a concern in workplaces and colleges, and whenever major life-decisions come about. Yet in regards to the wealth of information we all encounter on the world wide web, it isn’t the only concern. Since this phenomenon, we have taken to calling”fake news” hastens our normal ability to discern fact from fiction.
The informational wolf in sheep’s clothes
It’s not accidental that discovering truth and reliability online is challenging. For each and every recognized website or expert that people feel they can trust, in fact, there are millions of others that we have never heard of and have no background information regarding. So when we scan our feeds looking for something interesting to read, the content (subject matter) will frequently trump any evaluation of the source it comes from. To be fair, we hardly have enough opportunity to double check everything we read, however, the implicit trust we’re putting in total strangers is likely to backfire every now and again. Because that which we read sticks.
Which brings us to the spread of bogus news on social media, an issue that came into focus during the latter times of this 2016 U.S. presidential effort. People were subjected to”news” things that looked legitimate–the supplier appeared legitimate and also the information itself could have even seemed probable. Yet it was imitation. What’s it about our brains which make fake news potential? How did this entire issue come about?
It begins with how easy it’s to assemble a gorgeous, intuitive website quickly and without the knowledge of HTML. The Internet is populated with countless good-looking blogs with snazzy logos and navigation that is searchable. The problem with this is that psychologists have found that we inherently trust things which are simple and user-friendly. This is just another of their mind’s many shortcuts. Things (such as websites) that we can use intuitively appear familiar and familiarity breeds trust in our minds. And the lower the cognitive need, the less critical we’re of the information we’re taking in. Which supplies absolutely no guarantee that the information itself is reliable.
The world wide web has created the whole of human knowledge instantly accessible. This is a bad thing. But if we are not careful in our information consumption strategies, we become susceptible to misdirection by misinformation. Just as we must learn as kids the best way to filter our environment, we must learn as adults how to filter our advice. So just how do we do so?
It comes down to changing customs
Our brains simply were not designed to manage the influx of information constantly bombarding us. So we must find methods to filter and limit what we use. And move beyond speed and efficiency in information consumption to take into consideration the accuracy and trustworthiness of the information itself. All of which begins with changing some customs.
For starters, you can not go wrong by just limiting what kinds of information you see and where you see it. Each diet starts with consuming less. If you primarily use your social media accounts as a means to keep up with the goings-on of your friends and family, don’t too mess those feeds with brands and celebrities. Compartmentalize societal from information from entertainment, and think about using tools such as RSS readers that consolidate a good deal of different kinds of content in one place and supply easy tools for grouping and categorizing different kinds of media. And just ever follow sources you know, trust, and respect.
Next, unleash your inner critic. Teach yourself to simultaneously read a post when evaluating the support for this article’s premise–the claims, details, and figure you are studying about should be endorsed by high-quality study or supported by multiple sources that are reliable. This improves the reliability of your personal collection of trusted websites, publications, and individuals.
Additionally, it is a fantastic idea to intentionally inquire into the reverse of what you assume or expect –individuals have a natural tendency to gravitate towards information that confirms their beliefs and dismiss anything and anything that conflicts together. This bias may lead us to an ideological bubble, a safe, warm, and self-sustaining echo chamber where we only ever see matters that reconfirm our present beliefs and tastes. When we step outside our comfort zone exercise our wisdom in new approaches and open the door to discovery.
Another valuable tip for managing your information diet is to produce more than you eat. This can be done in many ways. Trying to create an answer to a query before looking up the answers helps you remember the correct answer, even if your guess has been well off the mark. And as soon as you’ve read something interesting, consider the opportunity to summarize it and put it in your own words. Doing so makes it possible to digest the substance, place the loose ends, and cement it into memory more efficiently.
You also can’t get around something we are often so busy we choose to ignore: take breaks. Research has demonstrated that we are unable to seek out associations and links between facts and thoughts when we are tired, and sleeping (even if it’s only a nap) enhances we remember of whatever we were learning before the break.
You might also be knowledgeable about the notion of getting brilliant ideas while in the shower, and there is research to back up this. It turns out when we stop working on an issue, our brains continue processing in the background. As the study authors report:”Our data indicate that creative problem solutions may be eased specifically by simple external jobs (i.e., tasks not associated with the key task) that optimize mind drifting.” In order to store knowledge in our memory banks, it has to be connected and related to existing memories and previous knowledge. This unconscious process of creating connections occasionally contributes to unexpected linkages–answers to problems or radically new thoughts.
We at Achieve TV know It’s easy to think that gaining more knowledge equates to swallowing more info, but this isn’t the case. Knowledge asks us. It asks that we take some opportunity to focus on quality, not quantity. We ignore what’s superfluous so as to concentrate on what’s important. We take the opportunity to link new information with what we already know and understand. And, finally, we leave behind sensory overload and learn how to filter the purposeful from the sounds. It’s how we grow up as information consumers.