There is WAY too much information out there.

For the most part, this isn’t a problem. The more the merrier, right? Wikipedia is certainly a lot more useful when it’s full of information.

The problem is the fact that I feel the need to consume it all, to read and watch and listen and process until I have a grasp on everything and know a little bit about all of it. I try to spend some time reading every day, both online and in dead-tree media, to keep up on current events, and every day, my stack of new magazines seems a little taller, and the number of unread posts in my news reader is a little higher. I know I can’t possibly take in everything that comes my way, but I’ve always had an overwhelming desire to know what’s going on.

Internet Anxiety Disorder first came to my attention over SIX MONTHS AGO, about the same time Ryan found it. I’ve been meaning to comment on it ever since, but I always seem to have something to read.

My intent to articulate this was recently revived when I found a link (from somewhere) to an article by Bob Walsh: All The News Doesn’t Fit. Just a few days earlier, Google had introduced Google Reader. The introductory post on Google Blog said it best (though almost definitely not first): how is anyone “supposed to keep up with the fire hose of stuff launched from the web’s spigot?”

I like to be able to comment intelligently on the issues facing the world around me, and as such, I try to keep on top of things. I’ve been spending more time reading lately and feel like I’m getting a better grasp on things, but it never slows down. Currently:<ul class="inPostList"><li>I have a half-dozen unread Wired magazines laying around.</li>

  • There are around 30 non-technical, just-for-fun type books on my shelf. I've read about half of them, maybe.
  • I’m currently reading two books. I’m an incredible 75 pages into the one I started a couple months ago.
  • I have 104 RSS feeds in my news reader, totaling 559 unread posts right now.
  • I've been keeping a list of movies I want to see since around August 2003 (I think). It currently features 217 titles. In 2004, I watched 129 movies, and just 71 so far this year, so that's around two years worth of movies I need to catch up on.
  • The text file with the list of movies also has 94 books that I've read ABOUT, and want to actually read.
  • Back in February, I started posting things to del.icio.us with the 'toRead' tag, when I found something interesting but didn’t have time to read it immediately. There are now 306 pages with that tag.
  • </ul> I feel like I’m missing out when I hear people talking about the latest book - two good examples are The Tipping Point and Freakonomics , both old news by now - but I’ve accepted the fact that I’ll never be able to keep up on it all. Yesterday, I started reading The Influentials (which I owned for TWO YEARS before finally starting) and thought this summed it all up nicely:

    The average American would have to read 334 books per day, go to 11,000 web sites per day, peruse 15 magazines per day, and tune into 29 radio stations every day for a year to see everything available to him or her - and that's not counting the dozens of programs being beamed every day by the hundreds of television networks vying for viewers' attention.

    I haven’t even tried to address TV, which has only gotten worse with the recent acquisition (and subsequent upgrade) of TiVo. I watch Simpsons or Aqua Teen Hunger Force when I feel like I need a break from consuming all the print media I need to get to.

    There’s a lot out there, and it just keeps coming. I know I can’t possibly get all of it, but I feel like I’m missing something if I don’t at least catch the major stuff. I’ve learned to be very suspicious of anyone who seems to be on top of it all - they are clearly unemployed and don’t require sleep.