Could Our Enormous Daily Data Consumption Be Making Us Stupid?

Every month, Fast Company publishes human interest statistics courtesy of the alliteratively-named Maccabee Montandon and illustrator Rob Vargas.  This duo has shown readers what two percent of the GNP looks like and how more and more advertising dollars are going digital (thanks for that, Captain Obvious).

But way back last January, they collaborated on a little graphic about “US Data Consumption In One Day,” the upshot of which is that Americans consume 3.6 zettabytes a day.  Which is rather a lot.  If you check out their handy graphic, you’ll see the data allocated to different stimuli.

Dennis Ryan, Chicago Advertising, Element 79

A zettabyte equals roughly one billion trillion bytes–a 1 with 21 zeros at the end–or roughly the capacity of 5.1 million computer hard drives.  And we absorb 3.6 of those big boys every day just doing…stuff.  Look, I’m no brain surgeon, but all that data consumption must put a demand on the system and tax the intellect.

This drain on available mental candlepower begins to explain a lot of things: the disappointment that is American Politics, the cultural wasteland of reality television, the worship of the iPhone…our society simply no longer has the bandwidth for real intelligence.  Pity, that.


By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Element 79


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