My word of the day: Infobesity. Definition from MacMillan dictionary: infobesity; the condition of continually consuming large amounts of information, especially when this has a negative effect on a person’s well-being and ability to concentrate. This is me reading the pages of our local daily newspapers plus the increasing online media pages, and trying to find ONE positive news – which I couldn’t again today! And all this is bad for my well-being.
The term draws a parallel with the excessive consumption of all sorts of foods leading to obesity. A major cause of obesity having been identified as the consumption of excessive amounts of junk food, one can draw one’s own conclusion with regards to infobesity!
This is also true in the corporate world. The Huffington Post noted in July 2014 that “the digital deluge is affecting everybody, and not in a good way. Our survey … suggests that nearly half of the UK’s office workers are suffering from Infobesity, the over-consumption of information. It’s making us unhappy, is bad for our health, and hurts our productivity.’
Microsoft as well published in 2014 a report called ‘Defying Digital Distraction’ which says that “from the moment we wake up to the second we tuck in for the night, we want to be connected. But do we really need to check our mobile devices constantly just in case work sends us something important (40% of us do), and does the last act before going to bed really have to be a final glance on the news and email feed (52% of us think it’s necessary).” The Microsoft consultant carries on to comment that there must certainly be something wrong with the office culture in many companies when 45% of workers feel that they should reply to work email instantly. And this is true, no matter where they are or what they are doing at that specific time.
As a result, how many of us really switch off from work … ever? My big question – that remains unanswered for now – is: are we using today’s technology only to speed up and bring further pressure to our old ways of working, or are we using it to altogether transform how we work and, therefore, make it better for us? Are we generating the information we need for critical decisions – no more and no less. Are we getting this info to the right people in the right way?
With these questions in mind, how could we, as communication specialists, help our partners and clients towards a cure for infobesity?