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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 defined as an obsessive need to constantly check social media, online news, and emails to acquire knowledge. There is a constant need to know what is going on at all times because of a fear of missing out (FOMO). This can affect how well someone can operate at work or in the classroom, as well as the possibility of becoming addicted to the technology used to obtain information. With the new technological age, information has become easier to obtain, therefore infomania has become more common. 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. To date, the term infomania is not used to refer to any recognized psychological disorder, and infomania is not generally recognized as causing significant impairment.
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 described effects of information overload on problem solving ability. The 80 volunteers carried out problem solving tasks in a quiet space and then while being bombarded with new emails and phone calls that they could not answer. Results showed a reduction in IQ by an average of 10 points during the bombardment session, but not everyone was affected to the same extent; men were distracted more than women. 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".
Wilson compares working while having an incoming of calls and email can reduce someone’s ability to focus as much as losing a night’s sleep. Not only can it affect one’s ability to function below their full potential at a job or in class, but it has been found that it can become addicting using technology as well. For example, how often have you found yourself on your phone checking work emails during a lunch with family on the weekend? This is just one of many examples of the addiction effect of infomania.
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.
- Sahoo, Reeta Sahoo, Gagan. Foundation of Information Technology. Saraswati House Pvt Ltd. ISBN 9788173356704.
- "the definition of infomania". www.dictionary.com. Retrieved 2019-05-03.
- "'Info-mania' dents IQ more than marijuana". www.newscientist.com. Retrieved 2019-05-03.
- Clarifying note by Dr. Glenn Wilson on the "Infomania" Study
- Zomorodi, Manoush. "Hi, I'm a digital junkie, and I suffer from infomania". latimes.com. Retrieved 2019-05-03.
- "Motivational, emotional, and behavioral correlates of fear of missing out". Computers in Human Behavior. 29 (4): 1841–1848. July 2013. doi:10.1016/j.chb.2013.02.014.
- "The Cost of Interrupted Work: More Speed and Stress" (PDF).
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