Online or offline, we are besieged by more information and communication than our counterparts of previous generations could ever imagine. In the course of a single second, hundreds of years' worth of new information becomes available based on average human intake capacities. In other words, in the next second, more television and radio programming; more books, magazines, newspapers, and print publications; more journals, government reports, industry studies, newsletters, and fact sheets; and more advertisements, commercials, promotions, and sales pitches will be produced than anyone could intellectually ingest in the next hundred years. With each following second, the phenomenon repeats itself. On Youtube alone, thousands of hours of new video footage is added every day.
“Predictably, we've reached the stage in our socio-cultural evolution where the number of items competing for one's time and attention greatly outstrips anyone's ability to keep up. No president, prime minister, king or queen, noble laureate, head of world religion, head of a university, scientist, researcher, or guru of any sort has a lock on the future of world events and human endeavors," says Jeff Davidson. Davidson is a professional speaker and author of 56 books including his latest, Simpler Living: A Back to Basics Guide to Cleaning, Furnishing, Storing, De-cluttering, Streamlining, Organizing, and More (Skyhorse Publishing, distributed by Norton).
The bombardment has reached such epidemic levels that virtually every aspect of one's life is dominated by messages. From airport TV monitors to advertising on the wall above urinals in restrooms the spaces and places in our lives are now depositories for more messages and information to which we must attend. No arena in our professional or personal lives is unscathed. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health report No. 99-101, titled Stress at Work, reports that "The nature of work is changing at whirlwind speed. Perhaps now more than ever before, job stress poses a threat to the health of workers and, in turn, to the health organizations."
Buy an airline ticket and the federal regulations that accompany your ticket exceed 8,000 words, equivalent to two chapters of a novel. Purchase a new home and encounter a bewildering array of forms, documents, pledges, and assurances you must sign – double the number of fifteen years ago.
In autumn 1988, Davidson had his first glimmer of the coming era of complexity that now fully submerges us. "It dawned on me back then that geometric growth in population, the volume of new information generated each day, media growth in terms of technological capability and global coverage, the volume of paper generated even as electronic information capabilities began to accelerate, and the over-abundance of choices that confronted people in all aspects of their lives would lead to a future much like the one we are experiencing right now."
Davidson wrote about these developments, which he termed the “Five Mega- Realities", in his 1990 book Breathing Space: Living and Working at a Comfortable Pace in a Speed Up Society, which was revised in 2000 and again in 2007. "Information and communication overload is at the root of much of the stress and anxiety that we experience today," says Davidson. "Unfortunately, the typical person has little understanding of the larger forces at play. For people under age 30, this non-stop, 24x7 world is all they've ever known. For them, there never has been a quieter, slower pace to life. They cannot conceive of a world before ubiquitous cell phones, the Web, and cable television, let alone with less noise and about half the traffic."
Simpler Living is designed to give people a framework for gaining control of their lives. The first three chapters focus on how we arrived at this ultra-hectic pace of life. From chapter 4 on, the book takes a room-by-room and step-by-step approach to simplifying and reclaiming one's home, office, leisure activities, nutrition, and health.
Simpler Living offers more than 1,500 tips and thus serves as a reference book, rather than a book to be read cover-to-cover. "Whether it's your kitchen, living room, dining room, bathroom, den, bedroom, attic, garage, back porch, car, or any other space in your life, turn directly to that chapter to gain a bevy of ideas for achieving simplicity," says Davidson. The advice in Simpler Living has wide appeal. For example, the book includes six questions to ask yourself before buying something new. There are instructions for setting up a home office, a four-step process for curtailing paper clutter, strategies to entirely eliminate some chores, and, most vital, how to find the time to unwind.
The publisher of Simple Living took a novel approach to its production by offering it in a landscape format: is wider than taller and has a unique appeal to it, as both a reference book and a coffee table book, adorned with more than 950 full-color, breathtaking photographs. The driving idea behind the book is that it would appeal to readers of such long-standing and venerated publications such as Yankee Magazine, Better Home and Gardens, Reader's Digest, Family Circle, and Country Home, as well Money, Traditional Home, Allure, and Elle.
Davidson hopes that the real-world solutions contained in Simpler Living will enable people to end the "clutter, complexity, and chaos in their lives, and discover the peaceful, productive lifestyle that they deserve."
Note: Jeff Davidson is a NC author currently living in the Triangle.