Digital fatigue . . . what took it so long!

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Dispatches from the 148 by Fred Ryan

Decades on, we are still reeling from the tsunami of information released (and continually being released) upon us by the internet; sociologists are now telling us we’re not benefiting as much as we thought from this volume, and, in fact, we may be barely keeping our heads above the water line.

Dispatches from the 148 by Fred Ryan

Decades on, we are still reeling from the tsunami of information released (and continually being released) upon us by the internet; sociologists are now telling us we’re not benefiting as much as we thought from this volume, and, in fact, we may be barely keeping our heads above the water line.
It’s clear we let most of this oh-so-valuable info-flow speed right past us.  There’s no way we can take in, process and sort, store, and then retrieve even half of this massive data and info-flow. One web expert has calculated that in the USA alone, 17 Web pages are put up every second. Every five seconds, the US gives us 85 new Web pages to study.
Who can process such volume – without even questioning how much of all this blather is actual information or is just verbal pollution. Does every gas station or laundromat really need a Web site? 
All this has brought us continual argument: we like this excess, or we don’t; we can use this “information”, or it’s irrelevant. Web sites are tools – or ego-boosters? Have we news, or all entertainment? It’s difficult to find clear criteria for answering any of these questions. Until now.
“Now” refers to our modern day of ad-blockers. It’s their sheer volume, the massive number of internet users who have opted for ad-blocking software, despite sometimes harsh penalties for even having this software loaded in their platform. Many websites have counter-attacked with software that can recognize ad-blockers and drive these ad-blocking-anarchists off the Web entirely. Rather harsh, but this reaction tells us how significant ad-blocking has become.
The ubiquity of ad-blockers tells us our media audiences are unhappy and frustrated with their digital experience. 
Ad-blocking is one indicator; consider how many people today are working most of their days on-screen. Think about the effect of working all day, every day, week after week, with one’s office computer or device. To insist that people only read from their screens means they will fight their way home in traffic merely to switch on their home computer to check out more sites? 
Isn’t another computer the last thing we want to look at, once we leave the office with its rows of computer work stations. This is digital fatigue.
We spend all day dealing with pop-up screens, autoplay videos, ads that appear and disappear on their own schedule, and even the hard-to-close mini-routines which appear on our screens because those screens have decided just what our likes and dislikes happen to be. Is this really the treatment we want from internet providers or websites? No, that’s why ad-blocking is so popular (Adblock Plus: 300 million downloads since 2006), and here’s yet another cause of digital fatigue.
It’s threatening, Big Data’s quiet recording of our internet use and interests, for commercial purposes. We are so, so fatigued by all these attempts just to sell us stuff! 
It’s becoming clear that as our use of non-traditional sources for our news grows, our actual understanding of the news has declined. Polling has shown, largely in the USA, that public awareness of election or legislative issues is low, much lower than we’d expect, given that every one is carrying an “information device”. In the old days we did, too, and called it a brain.
Is it fair to conclude that although today we have more information at our fingertips, we actually know less and less about the things that matter? How is that good?