What a stressful year it has been! Call it what you want, but 2020 has been the year of Information Overload, aka info anxiety, info explosion, and in some cases, an infodemic. In the past, thoughts of information overload stemmed from a packed inbox and the fact that we were drowning in information. We had an abundance of content and little time allocated to processing. At the time, information overload was considered by some to be a source of stress, reduced job satisfaction, disruptions in social and professional relationships, and poor health. The symptoms were benign, and those afflicted often suffered in silence.
Expectations about information and response times changed, and smartphones, social networks, smart TVs, and other devices flooded us with information and left little room or time for a personal recharge. While technology plays a crucial role in information management, how we manage that information, and the choices that we make, affect our ability to deal with the disruption. Those choices include delegation, escape, filters, and rejection. Have we changed amid the current disruption of a pandemic? Is the coronavirus an infodemic in addition to being a pandemic?
One thing is sure, the pandemic took stress levels to an all-time high, and it’s the first pandemic in history in which technology and social media have been used on a broad scale to keep people, safe, informed, productive, and connected. When we reflect on the year 2020, consider the thought that this tsunami of information, online and offline, included attempts to undermine the global response and impair control of the pandemic. Misinformation cost lives according to the World Health Organization (WHO) briefings. We’ve all been over-exposed to a huge quantity of information; to navigate the challenge, we must assess the source, go beyond headlines, identify the author, check the dates and facts, examine supporting evidence (science), and manage our personal assumptions. As we bid farewell to 2020, let’s focus on flattening the curve of misinformation, an overload that made 2020 the year of “too much.” It’s time to say goodbye! If you need help in managing pandemic-related stress, reach out…to me. As the stressbuster, I’ve been dealing with stress and crisis management for individuals and organizations for over 18 years!