If you’ve ever seen a documentary on Mt. Everest, you’ve no doubt heard about Snow Blindness (medically known as ultraviolet keratitis.) The ailment is a painful eye condition, caused by exposure of unprotected eyes to ultraviolet rays. The closer you get to the mountaintop… the greater the danger.
As I watch commercials (on television, online, on the train, and in hotel elevators...) grab direct mail from my mailbox, click-through on email blasts, ignore web banners, receive “friend requests,” scan my RSS feeds, and more, more, more… I’ve searched for a metaphor that might help to identify the recent phenomenon that I – and millions of others – are experiencing. After some pondering, I've concluded that "Snow Blindness" seems to say it all.
As we continue to climb the mountain of mass communication – and perhaps with the addition of social media, we’re reaching the top – my eyes seem to feel the painful condition described as sunburn of the cornea when speaking of snow blindness. Often – especially online – I don’t really know what I’m looking at, or if I even asked to see it. The Wiki says that most people don’t realize they’re going snow blind until it’s already happened to them. Hmmm… I think we’re there. My source goes on to say that the only real cure is total blackness for a period of time. Don’t see us going dark as far as our Internet and media intake is concerned, so maybe a preventative measure or two…
Use eye protection (figuratively speaking) that filters out the marketing fodder. That is to say, keep your blinders on for things that only serve to distract. Remember that there is an “opt out” button on emails from advertisers that you’d rather not hear from again. Don’t buy the notion that forwarding junk to 10 friends will win you $50k -- it will only server to tick off your friends. Realize that not every blog is true or worth reading (although I would submit that this one is!) And – the age-old truth that states "not all that glitters is gold" still prevails.
As far as the “total blackness” approach to recuperation from our social and marketing media over exposure… I, for one, cannot do it. My business runs on the Internet. But I’m learning to walk away now and again. Re-learning to use my noggin instead of my CPU. A little time to think… just a few minutes away from Instant Messages dinging, email alerts chiming, web ads popping. If I can turn away from the flash for long enough, I just might see the light once again.