Information overload is a real problem. Before the Internet, if you wanted information after a medical appointment, you had to peruse a book. Some libraries contained medical sections, or you could ask fellow patients, crowdsourcing information in the waiting room. But information came in manageable chunks such as an encyclopedia entry or a magazine article.
The Internet is like trying to drink from a firehose. It’s wonderful because you can always find out more information on any subject, including aphasia. But it’s also too easy to fall down the rabbit hole of facts and firsthand accounts. Where is the line where health information crosses from just enough to too much?
Can You Ever Have Too Much Information
Information is a good thing, right? We want to be informed, especially when it comes to personal health. But it’s possible to experience information overload. Too much information, especially too much conflicting information, can cause anxiety and confusion.
Dubbed “researchitis” by this HuffingtonPost author, she points out the problem that comes from knowing too much:
Yet information overload paralyzes us into a state of inaction, and if we don’t use the information that we’re learning immediately, we lose up to 75% of that information from our memories and brains, making all of the information we’re taking in nearly useless.
In other words, you keep the anxiety and confusion, but you lose the helpfulness that comes from having information to use for decision-making.
How Can You Manage Information Fatigue?
How do you collect information on strokes, brain injury, or primary progressive aphasia without drowning in it?
One Recommendation Approach
Ask your doctor or speech-language therapist for one recommended book or website, and then stick to that single, best source. Hyperlinks make it tempting to jump from site to site, but use them to expand and better understand the information in your primary source rather than become more points on your information path.
Research Limit Approach
If you need to make a decision and are gathering facts, judge ahead of time how long you will need to find the necessary information. Add a few minutes as buffer and set an egg timer. When the timer goes off, stop researching, even if you don’t have an answer.
Not having an answer in the alloted amount of time is a clue that the decision may be more complicated than you thought. In that case, you may want to return to a professional and have them help you narrow the scope of the decision.
Hire a Researcher Approach
No, we’re not suggesting that you pay a medical professional’s hourly rate, but there are plenty of people who will do your Googling for you at a low cost. If you go on sites like Fiverr.com and put in the term “research,” you will find plenty of people with 5-star reviews from past users who are happy to compile the information for you.
Explain why you are hiring them — that it’s not for a research paper but instead to save yourself from information overload — and they will be happy to do your Googling. It can help helpful to have someone non-emotionally invested in the decision doing the research.
What other suggestions do you have to save yourself from information overload?
Image: Roman Kraft via Unsplash via Creative Commons license