Thursday, 10 Mar 2011

Information Overload or Information Fulfillment?

I was at a dinner in Walt Disney World for a TravelingMom.com retreat. We were perched atop the Contemporary Resort outside of the California Grill restaurant and waiting for the fireworks to begin. The conversation turned to the topic of princess castles at the different Disney theme parks and I was trying to remember which theme park was matched with which princess. I knew that Cinderella’s castle was paired with Walt Disney World, while Sleeping Beauty’s castle resided at Disneyland, but I couldn’t remember the details of Paris Disneyland, Tokyo, or Hong Kong. My companions were making small talk with me and were more than happy to put the castle question out of their head, but I immediately pulled out my phone.

“I’m going to look it up,” I said.

They both gave me a look that suggested that they thought I might have been, well… a little off.

“I don’t like to wonder,” I clarified.

So I looked up the info. For the record, Sleeping Beauty’s castle resides in both Disneyland California and Hong Kong. Cinderella’s castle is in Disney World (Florida) and Toykyo Disneyland. Disneyland Paris has Sleeping Beauty’s castle as well, but it has a unique design of its own. Once my curiosity had been satisfied, I put my phone away and pulled out my camera to catch some amazing fireworks.

Later, when I thought about this situation, something became very clear. This isn’t simply my own version of Internet addiction; this is actually who I am as a person. When I saw the movie Amadeus in high school, I became obsessed with learning more about Mozart, his relationship with his movie-nemesis Salieri (almost entirely fictionalized, by the way) and his music. To this day, I am a huge fan of the music with “too many notes” and, in fact, Lady Bug listens to Mozart’s violin concertos every night. There was no Wikipedia to turn to, of course. Instead, I visited the library and found as many books as I could.

A year or so later, I saw the musical Evita on stage. It was one of the first full stage productions I had seen and I was captivated by it. But one thing bothered me as the curtain closed. What happened to her body when it went missing for sixteen years after her death? I set out on a mission to find out, and have had a life-long fascination with this woman, her rise from actress to political leader and her juxtaposed image as slut and saint. I’m not going to tell you what happened to her body. If you’re anything like me, you’ll go find out on your own. It’s a lot easier with Internet access! By the way, if you like to read, definitely check out one of her biographies. Amazing story and you’ll also learn a bit of Argentinian history!

We’re constantly hearing stories about “information overload” and how we passively take in the facts and fiction that bombard us all day long through the Internet, TV, books, movies, radio, etc. But when asked, I can name ONE blog that I read on a regular basis (it belongs to a friend who posts what she does every day, so I check it to see how she’s doing!) and only a handful of websites that I visit deliberately. I am not a passive consumer of information, and yet I simply adore the Internet. Why? Because I want to know what I want to know when I want to know it. I don’t like questions to go unanswered.

So, if you’re at a party with me and we can’t remember an important date, or the name of the guy in the such-and-such commercial, I WILL be pulling out my phone to look it up. Don’t roll your eyes… you may actually learn something!


4 Responses to “Information Overload or Information Fulfillment?”

  1. Monica Vila Says:

    This is so true, technology in this case is only helping you be who you are and facilitating your access to the info you need/want.
    Thank you for sharing – I feel better about my own attachment to the internet!
    It must be a reflective kind of day…
    MONICA

  2. melanie Says:

    You are an infomaniac just like me. No wonder we are such good friends. Now if you will excuse me I have to go find out what happened to her body. It will make me nuts if I don’t.

  3. Kate Hayes Says:

    I am the exact same way, Christy. So is my husband. And we love that technology has now enabled us to get the instant information that we crave, as opposed to all the work we had to do when we were younger – when you could spend hours in the library and still not find the information you were looking for! Don’t get me wrong – I love the library. But when you want to know information fast, I would much rather look it up on my phone than wonder. And I think this serves as a great parenting tool, because when our kids want to know things like what’s the tallest building in the world or how do submarines work…we can tell them!

  4. Michele Spring Fajeau Says:

    Oh my dear. My husband and I had a similar experience when disagreeing about the top 20 US cities and whether Santa Fe made the cut. I’m sure we were quite a sight in the restaurant, both on our phones, racing for the answer. I’ll let you do your own search, while I look up the whereabouts of dearly departed Ms. Peron. ;)