Taming the Information Tide: Perceptions of Information Overload in the American Home

Eszter Hargittai*, W. Russell Neuman, Olivia Curry

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations


This study reports on new media adopters' perceptions of and reactions to the shift from push broadcasting and headlines to the pull dynamics of online search. From a series of focus groups with adults from around the United States we find three dominant themes: (1) Most feel empowered and enthusiastic, not overloaded; (2) evolving forms of social networking represent a new manifestation of the two-step flow of communication; and (3) although critical of partisan "yellers" in the media, individuals do not report cocooning with the like-minded or avoiding the voices of those with whom they disagree. We also find that skills in using digital media matter when it comes to people's attitudes and uses of the new opportunities afforded by them.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)161-173
Number of pages13
JournalInformation Society
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2012


  • Internet
  • information overload
  • sensationalism
  • social media
  • web use skill

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Management Information Systems
  • Cultural Studies
  • Information Systems
  • Political Science and International Relations


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