One of the things I love about the internet and social media is also one of the things I hate about it. Life is full of those curious dichotomies, isn’t it?
This particular thing I’m talking about is the overwhelming amount of information available at the touch of a fingertip.
You are all, of course, familiar with it: the links to intriguing articles, daily blog feeds pouring in, newsletters arriving in the inbox. Not to mention the all-important TBR pile of books, a pile that seems to grow exponentially every time I read my Twitter feed (which is mostly authors), and simply explodes on Sunday’s when the NYT book review comes out.
This plethora of online information is one of the reasons I have problems reading on a digital device like an iPad. In the back of my mind, I know all that other “stuff” is out there waiting for me, and I keep getting this itch to click on and see what other must-reads are just one screen away. Thus one of the few times I can escape the gnawing twitch to scan the internet (just to make sure I’m not “missing” something important) is when I’m reading a physical book, and all my digital devices are outside of my reach.
Because yes, it’s even come to that. When I’m reading, I have to make sure my iPad, iPhone, and computer are nowhere nearby. Like the worst kind of addict, all those connections to the outside world have to be out of sight in order to be out of mind.
I know this is about more than a thirst for knowledge. I’m a connection addict. I want to know what’s going on in the world, I want to read every Tweet from my favorite authors, I want to know what great new books are coming out next Tuesday, I want to learn about the latest research in topics I’m concerned about: aging, education, literature. I wonder if there’s some new thinking out there about how I might improve the quality of my life, how I might (ironically) learn to live a quieter, more introspective existence.
So now that I’ve confessed my deep seated need to “keep up” with all the information I’m usually overloaded with, tell me how you all do it? Are you all successfully managing the information overload? If so, tell me how.
I need to know.
ADDENDUM: In one of those rare synchronous moments, the book I’m reading now ( a novel by May Sarton, circa 1965) talks about a woman who holds regular “evenings” at her home, evenings that sound much like the Sunday Salons we mimic in this online gathering. In the narrative, this question arises: "How did Willa (the hostess) find time to know so much, to be so aware over such a wide range? Of course she hardly slept, was known to read half the night, but it was not really knowledge after all that operated here, so much as a kind of superior feminine power to absorb the essence of human nature."
I claim no such power, but I’d love to have a tiny fraction to call my own.