Information Overload

 

Photo by Kate Scofield
Photo by Kate Scofield

“Don’t load yourselves up with equipment. Keep it simple.” – Jesus to His disciples, as quoted in Luke 9:3 (The Message)

I often wonder if technology, instead of making life easier and better, has made it more complicated and stressful.

I grew up during the B.T. Age—Before Technology. I didn’t need to know the up-to-the-second weather forecast. Back then we didn’t have instant access to Doppler radar and cell phones and Internet. If we wanted to know what the weather would be, we had our radio, which sat atop the refrigerator, Eleanor Schano and Bob Kudzma of Channel 4 and Channel 2 respectively, and my mother’s hands and feet, which ached when there was weather moving in. Or we simply looked out a window.

Weather forecasts were broadcast every half hour, along with news headlines. The news reports were given on the hour. Local—by local I mean Pittsburgh and Johnstown—TV stations devoted an hour to the news every evening and a half an hour at noon. If disaster struck, regular programming was cancelled to bring us the details as they unfolded.

That part hasn’t changed, but our exposure to and the availability of up-to-the-second worldwide, national, and local news and weather has. I wonder if we haven’t become information junkies. If we haven’t become addicted to being fed (bombarbed would be a better word) so much information and all of it available with a simple click of a mouse.

Life was simpler B.T. We had worries and concerns, yes, but not on the level we do today. We now can know about every dire event that happens worldwide almost the instant it occurs. I don’t know about you, but I believe this has raised my stress level. Life on a personal level is stressful enough, but factor in worldwide crises, and stress levels become unmanageable (no matter how we saw we’re managing quite well, thank you).

Now we have so many channels to choose from, so many devices, so many remote controllers, so much technology to keep us informed and crazy.

There’s no time to lie on your back in the yard, watching the clouds float across the sky. We’re too busy surfing the channels or the ’Net in search of the latest news, the latest game results. Or we’re checking our emails, Facebook or Twitter to get the latest on our friends, while ignoring the friend or loved one in the flesh right in front of us.

I believe we as a society are on information overload. And the result is more stress, more unhappiness—and an addiction for more info.

I’m not saying to can all the technology. It has its benefits. What I’m saying is we need more balance. We need to control the amount of incoming data to a manageable level, rather than allow it to control us.

In my opinion, “manageable level” is “need to know.” Do we really need to know all this stuff?

We carry it with us 24/7. We worry. We fret. We stew. We lose out on happiness in the here and now because carrying around all this unnecessary information is sucking the joy right out of us.

What did Jesus tell His disciples when He sent them out on a mission? And remember, they didn’t even have telephones back then. They had to figure things out on their own because they couldn’t check back in until they returned.

Jesus said, “Don’t load yourselves up. Keep it simple.”

If we followed His advice, imagine how lighter, freer, happier our lives would be!

 I confess, O Lord, that I’ve become an information junkie and often run on overload. Remind me of Jesus’ invitation to come to Him when I’m weary and heavy laden, and He will give me rest, for His yoke is easy and His burden is light (Matthew 11:28–30). Amen.

Extra tea: Read and meditate on Luke 9:1–6

How do you manage technology? Do you think we’ve gone overboard? Leave your answers in the comment section. Thank you. 

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