Experts: Information onslaught bad for your health
April 15, 1997
Web posted at: 5:43 p.m. EDT (2143 GMT)
From Correspondent Kathy Nellis
(CNN) -- Sick of the information age? You're not alone.
There's so much data out there -- on television, in books, on
billboards, in magazines and newspapers and on the Internet -
- that it's making some people physically ill, according to
Psychologists even have a name for the malady: Information
'We're often seeing a failure of concentration. We're seeing
a loss of motivation, loss of morale. We're seeing greater
-- Psychologist David Lewis
They say the illness isn't just mental.
"On the physical level, you might find people having
digestive problems," said psychologist David Lewis. "They
may, if the stress is chronic, have problems with their heart
-- hypertension, high blood pressure."
Other possible consequences: sleep disorders and adverse
effects on personal and sex lives.
Some say the Internet's to blame. In a survey of managers
conducted by Reuters, nearly half said they thought the
Internet will be a prime cause of information overload in the
next two years.
"We did the survey in five international centers ... the
U.K., the U.S., Hong Kong, Singapore and Australia," said
Paul Waddington of Reuters Business Information. "And we
interviewed about 1,300 people and the report did show some
very interesting findings -- that people genuinely suffer
from information overload. There's a business cost and a
human cost to it."
A third of the managers in the Reuter survey said they
suffered from stress-related health problems brought on by
too much information.
Forty-three percent said they had trouble making important
decisions because they had too much information.
And almost two thirds said their personal relationships
suffered because of information overload.
Experts say the syndrome isn't just annoying -- it's
dangerous. Their advice:
- Learn to pace yourself.
- Take breaks to give your brain time to absorb information.
- Know when to skim and when to study.
In a word, says Lewis, lighten up.
"No matter how interesting your job is, it's probably not
worth dying for," he says. "I do think there are people out
there who are dying because they're getting too much
information and they don't know how to handle it."
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