Limit the Amount of Information You Need to Process to Avoid Mind Fog

It cannot be denied that the Information Age has been beneficial in allowing the rapid exploration of almost any topic. However, this information overload comes with an educational cost. If you force yourself to process a large amount of information, you can slip into the so-called “mental fog”.

As knowledge and news site Big Think explains, while the flow of information we have can be helpful at times, we just haven’t learned how to deal with it yet. Our minds are designed to process one very simple thought at a time. In fact, most of the time we think we are “multitasking”, in fact we are just quickly switching from one task to another . Even if we don’t use our phones all the time, in the store, on the road and at work we are still overwhelmed with information compared to how much information needed to be processed fifty years ago. This overload leads to a cognitive slowdown called mental fog. And it can hurt us in the long run:

In fact, multitasking has been found to increase the production of cortisol, a stress hormone as well as adrenaline, which can overstimulate the brain and cause “mental fog”.

When we walk in our mental fog, why would we ever listen to experts like Levitin and Miller? In an era of information overload, the layperson is vested with the same powers as the so-called “expert”. Let’s say you stumbled upon an article by Neil DeGrasse Tyson. If you don’t like something about this, and especially if you don’t understand it, you can leave a comment under his Facebook article about how wrong you are. You have the power to fix this “expert” immediately. It doesn’t matter that you don’t have an astrophysics degree. Your emotional reaction to his “facts” is all that matters.

Simply put, the more information you have to process, the less time you will have to think about it properly. If you start to feel like you are falling into a mental fog – and you notice if you start making more inappropriate decisions, react more emotionally than rationally, or make frequent mistakes – slow down and try to limit the amount of information you need to process. Drop one or two tasks, or just take a break from the screens .

From Demagogues to Mental Fog – Side Effects of the Information Age | Big think


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