Do you suffer from Information Blindness?

“...a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention...” 
― Herbert A. Simon

The world we live in is incredible.  At no other time in known human history has there been this much access to information so easily.  Within your reach is an instrument which allows you to gain information on just about anything you can think of.  Although, there may be an issue.  Is it too much?

What is Information Blindness?

Information Blindness is a condition which is becoming more and more prevalent in our culture.  Information Blindness (IB) is an ailment that occurs when the brain can no longer absorb new information because it is overloaded.  It can become so severe that you will either begin to make one poor decision after another or stop making decisions altogether.  When this occurs it is subtle.

How your brain works

Your brain has developed,  through evolution,  a way of learning that requires it to absorb information in small chunks.  This is why phone numbers are only seven digits.  This occurs so quickly that you aren’t aware of it.   While your learning or being exposed to new information your brain is creating mental scaffolds.  Mental scaffolds are like file cabinets filled with folders that help us to store and access information when the need arises.   

What can you do if you experience IB

An excellent method to deal with IB is to confront the information actively.  You have to grapple with it a little by asking a series of questions.  In doing this, you begin to experience disfluency.  This is an efficient method of learning and processing information.  We can approach complicated or overwhelming information by breaking it down to a series of questions.  Let us use the example of a Cheesecake Factory menu.  If you have never been to a Cheesecake Factory their menus compared to most restaurant menus are the equivalent of Tolstoy’s “War and Peace.”  Before you begin thumbing through the book-like menu, you first decide “Do I want and an appetizer or just an entrée?”  “Am I going to have a dessert?”  “If so, maybe I shouldn’t get an appetizer.”  “Am I going to eat fish, meat, or have a vegetarian item?”  Before you get into a situation where there is too much information to process efficiently you begin to break it down and create the mental folders.  Your brain prefers information that allows it only two or three choices at a time.  Again, this occurs so quickly that we are unaware of the process.

Practice Stillness

There are other methods that you can employ to deal with IB.   However, the best one is to take some time each day and disconnect.  Turn off the phone, turn off the Direct TV and its 1,000 channels, let the kids go play outside, set aside the 100 other things you feel you should do and practice stillness.  All the other things that you worry about will still be there after your practice.  Your conscious brain needs some time to reset.  Practicing stillness allows your brain to reset.  Give yourself ten minutes of stillness each day.  Your future self will thank you.

Thank you for sharing this blog!


Until Next Week,

Rich Decker
Mindful Accord