Information Overload and Limited Human Bandwidth

Nobody can pay attention to everything, not even locally, much less globally. For example, the average adult American is exposed to upwards of 3000 ads daily. We consciously remember very few of them, but they affect us. We have to select which demands for attention to ignore. (Personally, I ignore celebrity news. Reports of reality are more interesting, but I can’t even keep up with the environmental news.)

We all filter information. We may be open to a lot, but by default we are all biased by our filters – filters based on what George Lakoff calls frames, the mental constructs by which we interpret new information. If new information fits our old frame, we accept it; if not, we ignore it. Lakoff studies values-based political messaging, but his observations certainly apply to all kinds of values clashes.

One of the objectives of Compression Thinking is to re-frame the situation of humanity and the environment. Yes we are biased and bandwidth limited, but can we form new frames by which we filter information and prioritize actions?