Nowadays, apart from environmental pollution such as that of air, water, waste and noise, our society is facing up with information pollution, which is of equal level of harm and damage as the former mentioned up, due to great and rapid development of new information technology. Despite its great advantages and benefits, this information achievement has had its own bad effects in many aspects of life.
“Information pollution is the contamination of information supply with irrelevant, redundant, unsolicited and low-value information. The excess of information is commonly known as information overload and it can lead to decision paralysis, where the person is unable to make a judgement as they cannot see what is irrelevant anymore. It is considered one of the adverse effects of the information revolution” ¹
In my opinion the above definition of information pollution is so realistic and meaningful one, just like “the odourless, invisible sewerage of human intelligence that somebody has to clean up”. ²
Since 1990s, when the World Wide Web created its web, a very effective and quick communication has been attained by e-mail and net, but even then people were worried and uncertain about the information overload. For instance, sending e-mails and instant texting messages may very often distract your attention and concentration from essential and necessary facts that you need while you perform an assignment or make an important decision. This disruption makes us restart from the beginning, frustrating us or having an excuse for putting off what we are involved in. Certainly this is considered an information pollutant, especially when we are at work, where we have to be very effective and successful to be promoted, let alone when these messages or e-mails are bed news that affect our mood, which reflects in our way of working and dealing with colleagues or fellows.
Alternatively, the information may be polluted when it is inaccurate or out of date. Many people take every piece of information available on the net for granted, thus this makes its readers misinformed and disorientated. In this way they come to wrong conclusions, which affect and lead them to making inadequate decisions and thus suffer the consequences. For instance, people have the tendency to read about an illness of any of their relatives or of themselves rather than consult it with a medical specialist. They follow what they read, which actually might be inaccurate or even worse. Sometimes they are badly affected in mental and psychological aspect, and become pessimistic, anxious, confused, whatever…
The characteristics of this pollution problem are of different sorts. Firstly it is intangible as people sometimes cannot understand, absorb or visualize the volume of the information given as sometimes the resources of information about something might be contradictory and so massive that you have to select and find the most persuasive. This happens because it is not verified by any group of experts. People take their freedom to write on the net for granted because it is considered as a human right. Therefore, selecting the right information you need, takes you a lot of time and makes you sick of it.
Secondly, searching on the net becomes addictive and we are already well-acquainted with the fact that the number of net addicts is dramatically increasing, most of them being teenagers. These addicts have completely changed their way of life, no real sports, no energetic activities, no eye-contact or touch communication, but virtual at everything, sharing everything with other fellows as well. This is the reason why we can consider the net and new technology as dangerous as drugs, alcohol and smoke, since they affect not only young people but others as well in the same way as these substances do.
In addition, information pollution has recently grown due to the fact that information has also been considered traditionally as a good thing, as we tend to appreciate statements like “the more information we get, the better it is”. Technology has made it possible to send the information to the remotest parts of the world. This is perceived as a sign of progress, because it shows the power of human beings to use the abilities they have been given, in order to build a better life for themselves and the other generations by developing their knowledge and contributing to the formation of a wider field of information in the future.
Information pollution and its effects can be seen at different levels, from the individual to society in general. Individually, it will have great impact on the abilities and capacity of the person himself or herself to evaluate options and find the appropriate solutions. It can lead to being incapable of making decisions or avoiding being stressed in learning process at school. These ones are considered as the most negative consequences of information pollution to individuals, especially to juveniles, since they are unable to distinguish between the importance of making an effort to achieve your goals and the entertainment for a short period of time with a game or unnecessary information, which plays no role in your personal formation or education.
Also, some people think that information pollution and information overload can cause loss of moral values, since the low quality and large quantity of information people get is making them less sensitive. They are much more keen on spending their time on the net, reading even information they do not need than spending their time with their family members. You can see them surfing on their phones instead of chatting with their beloved people at their dining tables, showing themselves so indifferent, not listening to them but interrupting them with any irrelevant information they get instantly. Although it seems that the information technology brings people closer to each other, in fact we can say that it separates them even more than thousand kilometres or miles can do, by causing the loss of those feelings without which the word “human” does not make sense.
Information pollution has also been a cause of many friendly relationships being broken off as they have been badly interpreted on the net. Information pollution has also had a bad and threatening impact not only on celebrities’ lives but also on common people’s ones, such as making up stories or gossip about friends who after this become enemies of each other. Losing a friend because of something you consider so useful such as technology and net is one of the most disappointing things in life. Such incidents lead to making people suffer from mental breakdowns or become depressed.
Besides, information pollution may cause problems in the business world such as that of the employees becoming burdened with information overload and stress, so they are led to giving a slower and inadequate performance. Sometimes they get or send e-mails or text messages while working. This causes them to waste time and their office job is not as productive and efficient as they want it to be. Thus, they find themselves stressed, anxious and under the pressure of being unable to be successful.
It is very important to know a lot and to be aware of the problems and bad effects of information pollution, but the most important and acute issue is how to cope with it and to come up with ideas in order to solve and reduce its adverse effects on our daily life and work. Therefore, we all individuals and organizations must make our contribution so that not to ignore this problem, otherwise it will be worsened every year. Thus we should not let our computers control us. Instead of this we should try to put them under our control, because we are the ones who created and developed the technology, it didn’t created us. Therefore, the most useful and basic advice is to set priorities, i.e. to dedicate most of our time to tasks and assignments that are crucial to attain our goals and targets in life.
Furthermore, we should minimize interruptions and answer only those which are important to our tasks, our life and our job, too. We should try to write short but without forgetting to be accurate and use the language in a correct way. As they say:” Time is money. Once the day it is gone, it never comes back”. ³
We should also try to increase awareness of this problem and in my opinion this is the most important step of all. By doing so, we do not only teach people how to deal with information pollution and how to educate their children in the best way possible, but we also contribute to making this issue clear for the ones who are suffering its bad consequences without even knowing what it is. So, we should educate people that information pollution is as harmful as other environmental pollution issues. Another important step is to encourage new technologies which can delete junk information and regulate information capacity either by penalties or by cost.
It is very indispensable to take harsh measures so that it will not rule us and our time. We should try not to complicate things but to simplify them so that to be always at balance. As Confucius said:” The hardest thing of all is to find a black cat in a dark room, especially if there is no cat.” ⁴
Worked by: Pegi Koci