The Dangers of Information Overload

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TheDangers of Information Overload

TheDangers of Information Overload

Fahrenheit451 is a 1953 novel written by Ray Bradbury about a dystopian societywhere books are outlawed and firemen are charged with sniffing outbook readers and burning their possessions — the firemen are aidedby an eight-legged dog-like robot known as “The Hound”. It isdivided into three chapters, which are “The Hearth and theSalamander”, “The Sieve and the Sand”, and “Burning Bright”,respectively. Inherently, the novel’s protagonist is a firefighternamed Guy Montag who specializes on burning outlawed books he ismarried to a woman named Mildred, but they do not have children.Essentially, Montag begins to question his life, work, and happinessafter meeting and interacting with his new neighbor, a freethinkingteenage girl called Clarisse. After meeting the girl, Montag returnshome only to find that his wife has overdosed on sleeping pills andhas no recollection of the event. Afterwards, Montag continues tomeet Clarisse and realizes the he looks forward to their moments.Nevertheless, Clarisse goes missing without a word and he begins tosuspect that something is amiss.

Afew days later, while at work, he encounters a woman who refuses topart with her books, but rather burns herself in her house along withher book collection however, Montag manages to steal a book from thewoman before she sets her possessions ablaze. It is later revealedthat Beatty, his boss, saw him stealing the book additionally, itturns out that Montag has been stealing books for several years andhas a secret collection. Problems begin for Montag when he revealshis secret to his wife and proposes they read the books together. Intime, Montag’s wife and her friends sell him out to the authoritiesand he is forced to burn down his own house however, during theprocess, he ends up burning his overbearing boss to death.Effectively, he becomes a fugitive and flees to the countryside toseek refuge amongst other book lovers in hiding. One of the mostprominent themes in the Fahrenheit 451 is the danger of informationoverload this paper analyzes this topic in the novel.

Seemingly,information overload is one of the main themes in Fahrenheit451. Inessence, information overload refers to feeding people with an excessof specific information that they do not have time to question it orthink about other things (NationalCooperative Highway Research Program et al., 2003).Intrinsically, the most severe case of information overload is seenin the city’s education system schools in the city no longerteach instead, they fill students with selective knowledge, whichmakes them feel smart, even when they are not. Additionally, theyteach students to accept whatever they are told as the gospel truthwithout asking any questions about it, even when it feels erroneous.Inherently, this fact is seen when Clarisse says, “We never askquestions, or at least most don’t they just run the answers atyou, and us sitting there for four more hours of film teacher”(Bradbury, 1953). Correspondingly, the purpose of schools is to fillstudents with so many non-combustible facts that they feel as if theyare brilliant with information (Strother,et al., 2012).At the end of the day, students become so confident that all theyhave been taught is all they need to know that they never questionthe things happening around them.

Thegovernment also ensures information overload by providing residentswith entertainment that brainwashes and prevents them fromquestioning the society’s order. Fundamentally, the governmentprovides the public with so much entertainment within a short periodthat people do not have time left to think about anything sensible.For instance, the state provides its people with parlor walls, whichrefer to series of televisions set side to side on a wall forentertainment purposes watching all those televisions is veryconcentration-intensive, leaving little room for thinking aboutanything else. For instance, when Mildred’s friends are watchingparlor walls at Montag’s house, he tries to talk to them aboutbooks but they are too distracted by the televisions to notice him —he is forced to switch of the parlor walls in order to gain theiraudience. Fundamentally, this scene of the novel demonstrates thatthe parlor walls are distracting, which further justifies that theylead to information overload in the audience.

Besides,the government has infused excessive violence in entertainment,leaving people too overwhelmed to think about important, progressivethings. For instance, the shows that people watch, as well as thegames they play, all contain violence. In such a way, violence hasfilled their minds so much that they have become apathetic to thingsthat are happening in their surroundings. For illustration, thegovernment has legalized parks for bullying people, as well as WindowSmasher that makes people obsessed with smashing walls (anotherviolent tendency) this is seen in the lines “head for Fun park toBully people around, break windowpanes in the Window Smasher place orwreak cars in Car Wreaker place with a steel ball” (Bradbury,1953). Besides, the shows aired on the parlor walls are allpredominantly violent. In essence, these examples show that thegovernment has overloaded people’s minds with so much violentcontent that death and hostility have become normal things in thesociety.

Fromthe evidence provided above, it is clear that information overload isone of the main themes in Bradbury’s novel. Seemingly, thegovernment has overloaded the people with unnecessary information toprevent them from paying attention to the events that are occurringaround them this has several grave consequences. For instance,information overload has prevented people from searching for thetruth, which in turn has made them vulnerable to lied andexploitation (Weist,2002).Inherently, the education system has been designed to make peoplefeel extremely brilliant, which has reduced their curiosity for whatbooks contain. In such a way, they are confident that they know allthat is necessary that they readily endorse the burning of books.

Anotherperil of information overload is that it makes people lose theirhumanity. As mentioned earlier, all the television shows and games inthe city contained high levels of violence. Effectively, this madepeople apathetic to the point where they could see others beingkilled in front of their eyes, but do nothing about it or deem itnormal. Additionally, violent behavior, such as smashing car windowsusing steel balls started being considered a norm, which furtherdistracted people from the things that were happening in theirenvironment. In principle, violence is not cultured or characteristicof a civilized society rather, it is barbaric and animalistic(Klingberg,2009).In this regard, information overload made people lose their humanitysince it amplified their animal instincts, which in turn overshadowedtheir civility, making them violent.

Anotherillustration of the inhumanity that information overload begot can beseen in the scene where a woman set herself on fire to avoid beingseparated from her beloved books. After she set herself ablaze thefiremen just watched without intervening, this shows that they hadbeen overloaded with so much information about how books were evilthat the saw book owners to be lesser humans who neither deservespity nor sympathy. Besides, the penalty for possessing a book was thetorching of all of the culprit’s possessions this was rather toograve for such a minor offense, however, people were okay with suchunfair standards. This demonstrates that they had lost some aspect oftheir humanity.

Lastly,Mildred’s betrayal is another display of the inhumanity that wasinduced by information overload in the dystopian city. Fundamentally,the government constantly reiterated to the people that owning bookswas a crime so much that it had a brainwashing effect on them.Mildred, fearing that to be affiliated with her husband in thebook-reading scandal that had occurred during the parlor wallssession with her friends, reported Montag to the police. In so doing,she had betrayed her marital vow to support her husband. Besides,loyalty is a moral that is essential for humanity to thrive (Pijpers,2013).In such a way, it is conclusive that information overload is animpediment to people’s humanity.

Informationoverload also makes people mindless puppets. Intrinsically, this factis apparent in several parts of the novel. For instance, Montag foundit so difficult to communicate to Mildred and her friends when theywere watching the parlor walls that he was forced to disconnect thetelevision in order to grasp their attention this scene demonstrateshow information overload makes people mindless. Notably, all thethree ladies were so engrossed in watching the violent shows thatwere airing on the televisions that were aligned on the wall thatthey could not use their minds to focus on anything else. Levitin(2015) explains that information overload makes people incapable ofthinking for themselves he notes that it makes them zombies.Correspondingly, the behavior that was demonstrated by the threewomen was undeniably zombie-like they were so enthusiastic aboutwatching television, but they did not really understand why it wasnecessary for them to do so — information overload had made them somindless that they could not ask themselves this question.

Anotherillustration of how information overload makes people mindlesspuppets is seen in the case of the firefighters they were repeatedlytold that their job was to burn books, and did so without asking whyit was necessary. Intrinsically, Montag had been a fireman for a longtime, during which he had burned down the possessions of book ownerswithout asking himself what was so evil about books that they costedtheir owners all their possessions. All he knew is that thegovernment demanded it and that it was his duty to enforce the lawit is only after Clarisse made him see the pointlessness of his jobthat he began to question the system. When he started reading books,he realized that there was nothing about books, which made him seethat he had been used to do the government’s dirty bidding.Essentially, this shows that, all the while, the government had usedMontag and the other firefighters as puppets for enforcing its willon the public. In this regard, it is agreeable that informationoverload is dangerous because it makes people mindless puppets whocannot think for themselves.

Seemingly,the most severe danger of information overload is that it makespeople drive themselves to their own extinction. It is mentionedseverally in the novel that bomber airplanes could be heard flyingover the city throughout the day however, since people wereoverloaded with the selective information that the government fedthem, they were incapable of asking themselves why the bomber planeshovered over the city in the first place. As a result, they werekilled by the same bombs they had been ignoring all those years. WhenMontag was ordered to burn down his house, he killed his boss andwounded his colleagues before escaping. After fleeing to thecountryside, he met readers who, like him, were in hiding there hesaw the bomber planes dropping nuclear bombs on the city that theyhad always hovered over. Notably, Montag was sure that most of theresidents of the city, including his wife, died in the explosionsince they were so used to the planes that it is highly likely thatthey were not able to notice anything wrong and save themselves.Seemingly, information overload made people incapable of noticingirregularities in their surroundings, which in turn rendered themunprepared and defenseless against the apocalypse that befell them(Catheret al., 2002).In such a manner, it is prudent to declare that information overloadwas responsible for the annihilation of the people in the dystopiancity of Fahrenheit451.

Inconclusion, information overload is deleterious in many ways.Fundamentally, information overload refers to feeding the mind withso much selective information that one cannot think about otherthings. In Bradbury’s novel, the members of the public weresubjected to information overload in terms of education,entertainment, and work. In schools, children were given selectiveknowledge without being permitted to ask questions this gave themthe illusion of brilliance. In regards to entertainment, thegovernment overran people’s minds with violent content via parlorwall programming, as well as the games that were legalized in thecity. Lastly, firefighters’ minds were flooded with propagandaabout the evils of books, which in turn made them burn thepossessions of book owners without remorse.

Essentially,the information overload in the aforementioned scenes of Fahrenheit451 resultedin various undesired outcomes, which prove the dangers of informationoverload. Inherently, information overload made the people inBradbury’s dystopian city blind to the truth, inhuman, and mindlesspuppets that the government could use to do its bidding.Additionally, it resulted in the people’s destruction.Fundamentally, people in the city were so distracted by parlor wallsand violent games of the region that they could not see thegovernment was lying to them. Moreover, the violent content thepeople were exposed to made them apathetic, which resulted in theloss of their humanity. Additionally, the selective information thatpeople were fed in school made them mindless puppets that could bemanipulated by the government for instance, firefighters wereordered to burn books without being told why they were to do so.Overall, information overload preoccupied the people’s minds,making them unable to either perceive or prevent their annihilation.In such a manner, information overload is dangerous.


Bradbury,Ray. (1953). Fahrenheit451. NewYork: Simon and Schuster.

Cather,W., Woodress, J. L., Ronning, K., &amp Link, F. M. (2002).&nbspTheprofessor`s house.Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press.

Klingberg,T. (2009).&nbspTheoverflowing brain: Information overload and the limits of workingmemory.Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Levitin,D. J. (2015).&nbspTheorganized mind: Thinking straight in the age of information overload.London: Viking.

NationalCooperative Highway Research Program, Lerner, N. D., &amp Llaneras,R. E. (2003).&nbspAdditionalinvestigations on driver information overload.Washington, DC: TRB.

Pijpers,G. (2013).&nbspInformationoverload: A system for better managing everyday data.Hoboken, N.J: Wiley.

Strother,J. B., Ulijn, J. M., &amp Fazal, Z. (2012).&nbspInformationoverload: An international challenge for professional engineers andtechnical communicators.Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley &amp Sons, Inc.

Weist,J. (2002).&nbspBradbury:An illustrated life: A journey to far metaphor.New York: Morrow.

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