Information Overload: 21st Century Edition

With the development of the World Wide Web, humans were suddenly thrust into a magnificent place: a land flowing with milk, honey, and an endless supply of information.

This information is great, especially when you need to research and discover the breed of your neighbor’s alien-type cat, look up the lyrics to your favorite song on the radio, or settle word debates while playing Scrabble. The landslide of information takes a dark side, however, when it impedes our ability to make decisions.

In her article, “I Can’t Think,” Sharon Begley describes the results of studies that suggest that the more information we’re given, the harder it is for us to make a decision. Particularly, using the different pieces of information, attempting to factor them all into each possible scenario, and ultimately trying to come out with the best possible solution. Yeah, it doesn’t often work that way.

Personally, I agree with the ideas in her article. Something all college students can relate to are those special times of the year when we have the opportunity to register for courses. This is something I’ve always found difficult, especially during the first two years of college when the course options were greater. Students often have to factor in not only the courses themselves, but what other options they have to reach the same requirement, what times are available over what days, what professors are teaching it, whether it is online or on-campus, and sometimes even the building locations of the classes. It’s a massive jigsaw puzzle of a lot of possible combinations, and it’s hard to figure out what schedule is best.

Until we’re each equipped with our own handy-dandy decision-making bot, I guess we’ll just have to continue being dissatisfied with our 200 television channels. After all, who can enjoy all of that technology when we’re struck with the overwhelming fear that we’re missing something on television that’s better than what we’re watching?

I can see how having so many daily decisions to make, with so many choices and resources available to us, can be a problem. But in my eyes, it’s a good problem to have. We’re fortunate to have so much information at our fingertips.

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