On most days that you might ask me about it, I’d be a bit cranky about the modern habit to self diagnose with newfangled disorders and diseases. My argument usually goes along the lines of by buying into the fad of, for a recent example, of gluten free nonsense you are diminishing the problems faced by people who actually have Celiac Disease. Whether this is right or wrong, I don’t know. But it’s curmudgeonly and pretty much the way I see things.
On other days I tend to think it’s a good thing that folks can come to a better understanding of how they’re functioning as a human and possibly try to fix things about themselves. Like if you suspect you might have ADD and can go to a doctor and they agree and work with you on overcoming that through drug therapy or therapy therapy or whatever, then that’s a pretty great thing.
The other day I read an article titled “Hi, I’m a Digital Junkie and I Suffer From Infomania.” The title alone triggered the former response in me. Infomania? Seriously? Infomania? Get outta here! However, as I read the article I began to get that feeling that someone has been secretly observing my life and decided to write an article on it. There were parts of it that were very much me:
“I want to read all these articles about everything from the latest scientifically engineered sugar substitute to an in-depth analysis of Donald Trump’s hair,” she said. “It’s like a different flavor of FOMO.… It’s fear of missing out, but missing out on content — and on knowledge. With limited time and mental resources, there’s no way to get through it all.”
We know our attention span is limited, but even if our phone doesn’t buzz with a text, we self-interrupt. We check email one more time. We look at our Twitter or Instagram feed. We don’t resist clicking on that link. It could be funny! Or contain life-changing information! Or at least provide conversation material for that holiday party tonight! We are inadvertently training our minds to seek digital interaction with little deeper intellectual payoff.
This is me. I browse the same web pages over and over thinking that there’s some new information there even though I know there isn’t. But even if there was, what does it matter. None of this affects me. It doesn’t alter my life or my behavior. It’s just a waste of time with no payoff. And I know this. I know this. Yet I keep doing it. Infomania.
Which brings me to my phone. I complained the other day about my phone’s battery going kaputskies. Well, yesterday it did just that. Wouldn’t charge and was draining fast at 10% power. So, I decided to take it into the Docomo shop and see if they could fix it. Turns out it was still under warranty so they are replacing it with a new phone. Same version, but beggars can’t be choosers, and the phone, when it was new, wasn’t all bad. Since they’re sending me a new one, they gave me a loaner for the time I have to wait until it arrives at the shop. The loaner is a bigger version of the phone I had, but I haven’t registered it with my Google account so, even though I can make phone calls and browse the net with it, it’s not personalized and I don’t have a lot of the social media apps that feed my Infomania.
At first, when my old phone was dead, I felt…what’s a word…naked? I felt out of touch. Something like that. Like I can’t check Twitter on a whim! Or what if I want to know the name of that weird movie I saw on HBO way back in the day? Or any other number of stupid “too much information” based fears. But that fear, as stupid as it was, and I knew it was stupid…I know it’s stupid…ended up going away quickly. And even though I can load up this loaner phone with all the apps to do Twitter and chat and whatever, I am choosing not to. And I’m wondering if when I get my new old phone if I should load them up on that.
I probably will. But maybe this time I’ll try to take it easy with the Infomania. Heh. It’s still a stupid word.