My client, Ann client calls her husband Joe “an information junkie.” Ann needed a new car and Joe was eager to help her find one. He researched consumer reports. Joe asked his online friends, fans and followers what they thought of particular vehicles. He watched Youtube videos of the cars in action and set up Google alerts. Joe amassed an enormous amount of information. Ann says “Joe keeps thinking there is just a little bit more information out there to find and we’ll know exactly which car to buy.” He’s right. There is a little bit more information, in fact, there is no end to the information that can be found to answer a question, solve a problem, make a point or satisfy a curiosity. The problem for Ann is that Joe’s “help” delays her car purchase. “He doesn’t know how to stop”, Ann says.
And as if endless information were not enough, it turns out that Joe is turned-on by information. What do I mean? Information turn-on is like gambling. My mother loves to gamble. On her 91st birthday, we went to Harrah’s Cherokee casino. They play a sound track of coins tumbling out of the machines: ca-ching, ca-ching, ca-ching. Just the sound of money plopping out entices Mom to sit at that machine. She’s hooked. When a person gambles, the brain releases dopamine, a neurochemical that the brain loves like your tongue likes sugar. Turns out that the tendency to pursue new information has a similar effect. The ping of a text or bing of an incoming email can light up parts of the brain once thought only to be ignited by drugs, sex and gambling.
If you don’t know when to stop or tend to fall into the black hole of the Internet, here are some tips for you:
Tips for Information Junkies
- Learn how to search more efficiently. Go to www.google.com/insidesearch/tipstricks/basics.html to brush up.
- Your social network will be full of opinions so limit this kind of input.
- Choose two or three professional sources and/or experts (who are not paid for their opinion.)
- Make your search well-rounded and then STOP. Well-rounded might include several live experts, up to three authoritative blogs or podcasts, and a few choice YouTube videos plus your Internet search.
- Set a time limit for your research/search.
And remember, since there is no end to the amount of information, points of view, perspectives, arguments, “facts” and claims you can gather from others, at some point, you need to draw your own conclusion, formulate an opinion, or make a decision. These are great stopping points.
A professional organizer can help you organize your search, set goals, and manage your time. You can find one at www.napo.net .
If you cannot stop, are neglecting your time with your live family and friends, or have a high dose of perfectionism, consult a professional counselor.