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Infomania is the debilitating state of information overload, caused by the combination of a backlog of information to process (usually in e-mail), and continuous interruptions from technologies like phones, instant messaging, and e-mail. It is also understood as distraction caused by the urge to check e-mail, text messaging and other sources of information, which causes the person to show symptoms to neglect other, often more important things—duties, family, etc. (For instance, a typical symptom of infomania is that of checking e-mail frequently during vacation.)
Origin of the term
The term infomania has been used since the 1980s, but has only recently been used as a term for a psychological debility.
The term was coined by Elizabeth M. Ferrarini, the author of Confessions of an Infomaniac (1984) and Infomania: The Guide to Essential Electronic Services (1985). Confessions was an early book about life online. It was excerpted in Cosmopolitan in 1982.
In 2005, Dr. Glenn Wilson conducted an experimental study which documented the detrimental effects of information overload on problem solving ability. This was described in a press release accompanying a self-report survey of the extent of misuse of modern technology sponsored by Hewlett-Packard. In 2010, Dr. Glenn Wilson published a clarifying note about the study in which he documented the limited size of the study and stated the results were "widely misrepresented in the media".
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