Do you feel overwhelmed by the amount of information on available to you through the internet? According to a research study by the Pew Research Center, most Americans like having easy access to information and do not have a problem with information overload. In fact, most survey respondents felt that the access to information provided by the Internet helped to keep them better informed, especially in terms of global and national events.
I don’t think these results are very surprising. A fair amount of attention has been given to information overload in recent years, but people have developed a host of different ways to cope. For example, when a search on Google returns several million results, how often do you look past the first 10 results? For most people, the answer is not very often, and we aren’t likely to be overwhelmed by 2 million of results if we have trained ourselves to simply ignore 1,999,990 of them. Of course, when analyzing this survey, it is important to keep in mind that people believing something is true, does not necessarily make it so.
One really interesting finding from the breakdown of the results is that the younger adults in the survey did not feel as strongly about the internet making people better informed. That aspect would certainly be worth exploring further. Is it that some of the younger people in the survey never really knew what it was like not to have access to the internet, so things don’t seem so much different today than they did when they were children? Or perhaps they have just come to the realization that looking at cat pictures might not make people smarter.
Despite the headlines about the Internet is making us better informed, I wonder if the main takeaway from this survey should be that people are simply becoming more and more comfortable living in world of ubiquitous access to information.