An ode to information overload

I’ve just returned to work after 2 weeks of holiday. Before I left, I decided that I had had enough of being addicted to looking at the endless feed of information and hysteria on twitter. It’s one of many bad digital addictions, and it ruins my ability to concentrate.

I used to like looking at updates from fellow web designers on twitter – I felt like they were little nuggets of gold that kept me inspired to keep making great work, and just find inspiration. But lately the buzz has become truly tiresome – and I’m sure that I contribute to it. Endless nit picking, debates about the semantics of our profession, how you should do things, how you should not do things. Even the elder statesmen are getting a little crabby. The format of tweets also makes misunderstandings far more likely to occur, and you cannot see the author’s intent in context.

On twitter and UX newsletters, the articles referenced are generally poor in quality and insight, full of wishful thinking. Endless opinions. The same stuff recycled. I am in no way an amazing designer, but I feel like I’ve read it all before.

So I’ve resolved to stop reading it. All of it. I’m already noticing how much better it is not to check every hour for a minute. Or the news. I have some fantastic books at home that I still need to read, some I could read again.

I need to just decide what works for me and my team. I couldn’t give a monkeys about what process works for someone else. I just need to show up for work, concentrate on the work, be a good team mate, and try to do good work.

So that’s the work side.

On the leisure side, same applies. Less checking News sites, although I am partial to the New York Times these days (print at weekends and digital during week). They tend to report the worst of humanity, or spin it towards outrage.

Less picking up the phone constantly. I’m moving Instagram off my home screen. I might even stop using it.

Reading more books. About design, about history, about people, about the world. Deeper. Requires thinking and concentrating. Sitting there without a quick check for a dopamine coated nugget of news on my phone, or messages from people!

I even now have a non-digital space in my garage. It has a few design books, a record player, a guitar, and art materials. I love going there to slow down, and dip into something without distractions.

The next step is what to do about contacting people, and people contacting me. I quit facebook ages ago, and left a message saying: email me or phone me! But many people didn’t see the post. All the whatsapp chat groups are getting exhausting. Why is organising a night out so hard?

Perhaps a little tangentially, it’s like Dieter Rams said:

Less, but better