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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. A typical symptom of infomania is 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".
There have not been any long-term studies on the effects of infomania, but studies on Fear of Missing Out, which involves compulsively checking in on the experiences of others via social media show the effects of constant interruptions. A study by Gloria Mark at UC Irvine concluded interruptions result in "more stress, higher frustration, time pressure and effort" and it took an average of 23 minutes to return to an original task after an interruption.
- Zomorodi, Manoush. "Hi, I'm a digital junkie, and I suffer from infomania". latimes.com. Retrieved 2018-09-13.
- Lifesize, Simon Dudley,. "Infomania, Texting and Productivity: How Tech May Hamper the Connected Experience". WIRED. Retrieved 2018-09-13.
- Clarifying note by Dr. Glenn Wilson on the "Infomania" Study
- 2017 LA Times article on infomania
- Przybylski, Andrew K. (2013). "Motivational, emotional, and behavioral correlates of fear of missing out". Computers in Human Behavior. 29: 1841–1848. doi:10.1016/j.chb.2013.02.014.
- Mark, Gloria. "The Cost of Interrupted Work: More Speed and Stress" (PDF). ics.uci.edu. Retrieved 4 July 2017.
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