Ever since I read the post from Scarlet Imprint about their choice to leave Facebook, in part due to information overload I’ve been thinking about information filtering and where it fits into magic. Scarlet imprint makes a valid point when they note that your average person can only handle so much information before s/he is overwhelmed. Back in the days when I taught social media, I saw first hand how overwhelmed most people were (and still are) by how fast social media technology progresses, but also by the sheer amount of information that is shared. It can make your head spin.
My approach to handling information involves filtering information, both in terms of importance, but also in terms of how I process information. It is easier to filter information by importance because you can simply ask whether the information is important or relevant, and recognize that a lot of it isn’t. As such cutting out the information that isn’t important can be effective for reducing the stress on your cognitive load. But even then you still have to process the information.
In Magical Identity I discussed how I have developed a technique where I devote a specific aspect of myself to learning and processing information about a specific discipline. Information about that discipline is directed to that specific aspect and that aspect processes the information, and also comes to the fore when the information is needed. So for example I have an aspect of myself that is focused on processing information about neuroscience. I have another aspect that is focused on processing information about small business development. And so on and so forth.
By creating multiple aspects I can effectively improve my cognitive load and process more information on a variety of topics. I can then draw on that information as needed by simply tapping into that aspect to call it forth. And when I don’t need the information, that aspect goes into the background and continues to process information and provide insights as needed. Sometimes I will find myself thinking about a particular subject of interest, and the needed insight will come to mind immediately, provided courtesy of the aspect that I have devoted to that exploring that particular subject. I think of my aspects as background programs that continue to run at all times, helping me process lots of information. As such I have never really found myself overwhelmed by information.
The creation of an information filter can help you with your cognitive load. As you can tell there are different types of information filters. Creating ones that filter and then process information frees up your everyday consciousness to focus on what is important in the moment, with the knowledge that you can draw on a vast store of information as needed.