In a society where anyone can be ‘on’ 24 hours a day, seven days a week, it’s almost too easy to become immersed in the digital word which comprises of Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, email, blogs, videos and much more. Numerous studies have shown that we are finding it increasingly hard to switch off, and this can seriously affect our health and wellbeing.
It’s not that we’re not advocates of the internet; on the contrary, we embrace it. However there’s a difference between using all of the above for either pure enjoyment or work for a few hours a day, to feeling like you must click every link you see, watch every video or endlessly refresh your Twitter feed.
If you reach the point where you feel you are physically unable to stop clicking, you may be suffering with what is known as Infomania. Basically, you’re a digital junkie. And according to an article in the LA Times, it’s a condition rapidly on the rise.
The Oxford dictionary defines infomania as: “The compulsive desire to check or accumulate news and information, typically via mobile phone or computer.”
The article says that the fear of missing out on content and knowledge is the latest neurosis scrambling the brains of people everywhere. It’s easy to see why we are so infatuated with the internet, though. It’s a wondrous place; endlessly engaging and full of any content we can access as freely as tap water, at any time we choose.
In the article by Manoush Zomorodi, she explains this particular form of FOMO and sums up the essence of this modern fixation:
“I want to read all these articles about everything from the latest scientifically engineered sugar substitute to an in-depth analysis of Donald Trump’s hair… It’s like a different flavour of FOMO … It’s fear of missing out, but missing out on content — and on knowledge. With limited time and mental resources, there’s no way to get through it all.”
Any one of us could call ourselves a digital junkie half-heartedly, but the problem here is that there is no let-up. The content will never cease to exist, so how are you realistically ever going to assuage your cravings? There’s no way to absorb or retain all the digital information, and this leads to feelings of extreme stress, anxiety and inadequacy.
And while there’s no real cure for infomania, the author suggests that we could get the symptoms in check by prioritising the content that we really feel is the most important to us – if you have 80 tabs open there’s no way you’ll be able to retain the information from each of them – and be mindful of what you choose to read. It’s okay to be picky and tailor your content; many apps allow you to do this as it is.
Take small steps if you feel you need to cut back, but are finding it hard to (limit yourself to two hours a day on the net, for example). The internet is not worth your health and even if you can’t check your phone right this minute, the content will still be online tomorrow.
Most importantly, as Zomorodi says, “It has to be OK to say, ‘I didn’t see it/read it/watch it.’”
Via The LA Times