Kin Lane: Working To Avoid The Drowning Effects Of Real Time

A million times, this:

You hear a lot of talk about information overload, but I don’t feel the amount of information is the problem. For me, the problem comes in with the emotional investment demanded by real-time, and the ultimate toll it can take on your productivity, or just general happiness and well-being. You can see this play out in everything from expectations that you should respond to emails, all the way to social network memes getting your attention when it comes to the election, or for me personally, the concerns around security and privacy using technology.

Source: Working To Avoid The Drowning Effects Of Real Time ·

I’ve definitely been feeling this fatigue more lately. Describing it as a “real-time toll” is a good way to look at it. It’s definitely not information overload – it’s sensory and emotional overload as a result of a flood of realtime demands on attention and connection.

I am actively reducing the number of real-time platforms/connections/whatevers that I pay attention to, and am actively trying to do as much as I can on my own schedule. RSS is on my schedule. Checking and responding to email is on my schedule. Twitter/Facebook/etc are more real-time environments, so I’m reducing the amount of time I spend there.

Update: the Related Posts feature pulled up this post from 2008. “Real-time toll” is a perfect way to describe what I was getting at back then:

Every time I read an update by someone that I care about, I think about that person – if only for a second – and my sense of connection is strengthened.

9 thoughts on “Kin Lane: Working To Avoid The Drowning Effects Of Real Time”

  1. Good on you. Cutting the mobile out makes a difference.

    When I nuked my Facebook account more than a year ago, it was a sick awareness of the time I was spending mindlessly scrolling through timelines. A project last year, and now two web client sites have me back in, but minimally. No mobile client. And I only log in on a computer 1-2 a week, check, and log out. My goal is to be the most meaningless source of data to Zuck et al. It probably makes me a hypocrite.

    And I am more or less at it in Instagram; I keep the scrolls to a once a day thing before going to sleep. I could let it go. I am somewhat observing behaviors there too. Comments are rare, and when they happen, are often not more than a 5 word phrase. I see pages and pages of likes.

    I still keep twitter in my face. And it’s really no different, and its again a company just trying to get some marketing $ of my behavior.

    But I am not ready to make it a binary Stream Bad / No Stream Good thing. There are many things that happen there that I can consider positive, rewarding, perhaps even meaningful in connecting with (and goofing around with) people I care about. I won;t use a cliché of “balance” or baby/bathwater, but I don’t know how to separate the suck from the non suck.

    1. yeah. trying to avoid the clichéd binaries, too. balance is important, and I think much of that comes over not having any sense of control with real-time streams. I mean control in a couple of ways – there’s the flow (pacing/notifications and constant “13 new tweets” to check. 14. 19. 27.) but even more troubling is the algorithmic nature of the flow. I have literally no idea what math is being done to tailor the feeds to my profile. I have no idea who is writing that code, for what purposes. Except that I’m the target of some pretty incredible software, trying to get me to click just one more link, to linger just 5 more seconds, to view just one more ad) (as are all people who touch the internet in 2016).

      I still check Twitter and Facebook a few times a day, and post occasional comments on both. Stuff I publish here on the blog still gets pushed to both, so non-RSS-users are included.

  2. As you know, I’ve thought a lot about this too. The “problem” with the information overload approach is that it ignores the fact that, to some degree, the expanding amount of information around us (and I do believe it continues to expand) is about as relevant as the depth of the water in which one swims: namely, it mostly isn’t outside of psychological effects…which are real, of course, just as (to employ a different metaphor), walking straight down a 1-foot wide plank is easy until that plank is 100 feet off the ground…

    But this makes me think that the real problem isn’t the overload, but the speed and strength of the current and our ability to navigate within, to and from it…regardless of the depths.

    1. I facebook-replied to some of this. Irony. Awesome… Copypasting for archivey completeness…

      I’m (Slowly) re-reading Future Shock, and Toffler touches on some of this, in a book written in 1970. Suddenly, we come into contact with more people in a week/day/hour than people typically would in a lifetime not that long ago. we’re still coping with that shift as a society.


      This fits in nicely with what (Patrick and I) were talking about last week, with individual-as-atomic-unit vs. individual-as-connected-self. Atomic-unit relies on real-time streams to keep “informed” and “up to date” on what is going on. Connected-self may be able to have a slower, more deliberate pace while relying on connections with others to keep informed etc?

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