Information overload of our 24 hour news culture



The events of the past few days in London (and now in the rest of the country) have been shocking and alarming. It has been somewhat disconcerting to see how ill-informed I was. From being a news item over the weekend it quickly became a lot more real when I went to the local supermarket and found it closed. Tesco closed on a late Monday afternoon? My brain immediately thought there had been a fire alarm but no, it was to remain shut.


Twitter was the source of information for me that evening and later on into the night. After getting the latest update from BBC when I got home, I made the conscious decision to turn it off and only allow written liveblog updates. Much later in the night it became clear that people on Twitter were not always factual and tweets about this and that on fire were just rumours. Sirens were ringing in the darkness and helicopters raged overhead (although these were most probably news helicopters).


Overload of information does nothing to help the situation, instead I believe it increases the stress and panic for the individual. Images have such a higher impact than what our brains could ever see with the written word and that is why I disagree with today’s 24 hours news channels that play five minutes of footage on a loop. I only read enough to stay informed and no more. I don’t want to be crippled by fear or consumed by anger. I generally enjoy the banter and information on Twitter but I eventually turned that off as the graduation from shock to anger to harshness to blame to jokes just didn’t seem right.


Many people seemed unable to tear themselves from their TV screens and computers and smartphones and became increasingly jittery. The next day heart-warming news came through of the cleanup teams in different neighbourhoods. I was greeted by a quiet high street that had left every single independent shop unharmed, although most were in the process of boarding up their windows as a precaution. Some shops looked unrecognizable without their usual display of fresh fruit and vegetables that often spilled out and covered half of the sidewalk.


It was a beautiful sunny day yesterday and yet in my part of London, things were eerily quiet save the few children playing right outside their houses. At 6:24pm I heard the ice cream van pass by with his little jingly-jangly tune and it was the most wonderful sound.


Be safe everybody.


Photo credit: mendhak via flickr

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