Despite being a relatively new phrase, the concept of ‘knowledge obesity’ has existed for many years—and, as we make our way in 2021, it continues to grow exponentially and become even more of a problem for people, both inside and outside of the workplace.
In today’s article, we’re going to look at what ‘knowledge obesity’ is and how it is impacting people in 2021. So, without further ado, let’s begin.
What is knowledge obesity and why is it a problem?
The term ‘Knowledge Obesity’ refers to information overload that makes it hard for people to accurately identify what is and isn’t’ necessary in their lives, increasing the likelihood of negative experiences and feelings or impacting a person’s ability to make appropriate and rational decisions. Just think about how you feel when your brain is overloaded with information—how do you react? Are you able to stay calm and perform at your best, or does it adversely impact the way you behave? For most people, the latter is true.
Human beings are incredibly adept at sourcing and sharing vast reams of knowledge. Yet, they’re not as proficient when it comes to applying it, which is why so many people have struggled with the transition to remote working. Zoom, Skype, emails, phone calls, video calls, virtual hangouts etc., are all fantastic tools when working from home. Still, at some point, the barrage of notifications and information becomes too much and can lead to procrastination, inefficiency, stress, and the like.
How to address the problem of knowledge obesity?
Let’s take the workplace, for example. An employee who is overloaded with information is going to struggle to be productive and efficient; therefore, it’s imperative for managers to step in before this happens (or manage it once it has occurred). Managers play a critical role in helping workers unpack and make sense of the knowledge—then know how to apply it. After all, ‘knowledge is power,’ as they say, yet knowledge isn’t ‘power’ if it’s not being applied in the correct fashion.
HR also plays a pivotal role in addressing ‘Knowledge Obesity’. Why? Because HR leaders need to help workers understand and pinpoint why they are clutching to (certain) knowledge, in addition to encouraging employees to be critical about what information they retain and that which they discard. Furthermore, shared devices and drives and software can help relieve pressure off those struggling to manage their knowledge intake; however, it is imperative that management and HR take the lead and work hard to help employees shed ‘pounds’ of unneeded knowledge.
Ultimately, too much knowledge weighs us down, regardless of who you are, how much experience you have, and so on and so forth. The ongoing pandemic has connected everyone in an instant, meaning we’re all meeting, learning, working, connecting being informed and guided digitally, which, despite having a wide array of positive impacts, has also caused a plethora of adverse effects too—one of which is ‘Knowledge Obesity’.