I have a love hate relationship with the way in which technology has sculpted our connection to and consumption of information. This isn’t about the quality of our information, that’s a whole different tale to tell, I’m talking about the way in which we interact with it. So many of us take in data in bits and bytes. 140 characters here. A blog post there. News articles are shorter. Sites estimate for us the length of time it should take to read a post. Email, which used to be the best most efficient form of communication, now seems long and painful. Instant message and text notifications follow us wherever we go on the devices of our choice. And though I seem to read constantly I personally find it a challenge to make the time to read an entire book. The availability of so much information on anything you could hope to know can overwhelm.
Sometimes it’s a wonderful thing. Sometimes I feel like my mind is so saturated I can’t take in another single detail.
And then something important pops up in a notification and I dive right in.
That happened this morning as I was reaching information overload. WordPress, slack, twitter, Gmail, Facebook, texts, Google search notifications. All of them pouring in. And whatever that extra pinging noise that goes off occasionally is. The one I can never remember what it’s notifying me of. All of them flooding in with mountains and rivers of information.
And then the one message I had been waiting for popped up. The last set of medical test results from an appointment with my doctor. My Pap. Which was on Monday. All of my other results had come in and it was just this one outlier. Which of course convinced me that something was wrong. Because I’ve had abnormal results in the past.
Seeing the notification for my results I forgot that I was over saturated. I forgot I was going numb to the notifications. I clicked to open and found instant relief. In days past it could have taken more than a month to get that test result back. And when it came in I would have gotten a notice in the mail if the result was normal. Or a phone call if the result had been abnormal.
And by days past I mean 10 years ago. 5 years ago. 3 years ago.
I remember my last normal pap result notification. It arrived in the mail 6 weeks after the exam. I had to tear off the top and sides at the perforated edges before unfolding to open. It pretty much just said things were normal. No further details.
But here were my results from a test on Monday. Results were normal and there was a detailed explanation from my doctor.
And I have to wonder as we sculpt ourselves and our consumption to information technology how much does the information sculpt itself to fit this new world.