Information overload?

I wonder at what point you have more information coming in than you can possibly handle. I feel like I am at that point right now. I have never been very good at focusing my interests. If I really wanted to write for a living, for example, I would need to focus on something that would give my writing an edge; a subject area or geographical or cultural focus perhaps. Instead, my interests race off in every direction: history, politics, culture, sports, literature, philosophy, religion, etc. My reading is wide but shallow and I am an expert at nothing.

I have way too many sources of information. I subscribe to the following magazines: National Review, The New Republic, First Things, and The New Criterion. I regularly read postings at Slate, National Review Online, and more blogs than I care to count. I receive information from a variety of foundations and think tanks, not to mention headlines from the New York Times and the Washington Post. Not content with these information streams, and being a book addict, I have shelves full of books I want to read. Since I am a member of the Conservative Book Club and the History Book club I am constantly tempted to buy even more.

This tendency to seek information from everywhere yet never really settle on something increases my melancholy nature. Lately, I have become aware of how this habit undermines my happiness. Like most obsessions it leads to frustration rather than gratification. Chasing endless streams of information never leads to satisfaction but exhaustion. Even when I read books I enjoy, I am sometimes distracted by the books I have yet to read or want to read next.

I guess what I am saying, is that in the information age one has to try and balance and focus ones reading; or at least I feel I must. Otherwise, I think the chase over-takes the act itself. Instead of enjoying, learning from, and appreciating the things I read I will simply be swallowing bits of information for the sake of checking it off my list. In the days ahead I hope to work on more depth and less breadth. I don’t plan on buying more books, or at least restraining myself greatly, and I hope to re-evaluate my subscriptions in order to focus on what I can actual digest and enjoy. In this way perhaps I can get off the merry-go-round and enjoy my reading more fully. Perhaps, that will result in better postings here as well!

Kevin Holtsberry
I work in communications and public affairs. I try to squeeze in as much reading as I can while still spending time with my wife and two kids (and cheering on the Pittsburgh Steelers and Michigan Wolverines during football season).