Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Media Overload

I was looking for the news of the day - whether the Federal Reserve was going to lower its interest rate. As a homeowner who carries various forms of debt, I suddenly care about the movement of the interest rate on my personal life. But when I went out to find the news, I stumbled and got lost in the middle of my quest to get a simple piece of news.

Two words to describe my stumbling: media overload. The internet certainly magnifies this trend, but it has been happening for several decades now when one takes into account cable television and niche-oriented magazines. The benefit of a wider variety of available media is both choice and value. I can now connect with Italian radio stations that I might have listened to from the past - and I can find some arcane forms of entertainment - classic 50's television like "The Twilight Show" and classic 40's radio like Dragnet - that were seemingly lost in the analog media world of previous decades and certainly out of my price range. The detriment, though, is an overwhelming sea of information that only becomes harder to navigate by the day. I can picture in my mind some movie like "The Perfect Storm" and the image of a fishing boat bracing for a wave the size of the Empire State Building rising up to smother everything in its wake.

Perhaps I am in control of what I watch, listen to, and read, but my discipline vacillates depending on how much focus I can muster - and how much sleep I can manage from the night before. In either case, I have to watch my own media consumption habits lest I get consumed in site after site after channel after station of content. After all, media overload is an unique benefit of the digital age which also happens to be a growing affliction.
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