JetBlue Tackles Information Overload and Busyness in ‘Humankinda’

5 Tips for a Less Busy and Overloaded Day

By Jonathan Spira on 26 October 2015
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Information Overload Awareness Day was last Tuesday and JetBlue Airways joined the spirit of the celebration by releasing a short film, “Humankinda,” which speaks to the overloaded lifestyle so many people live today. The film, released on the following day, stars comedian Sam Richardson and was directed by Bianca Giaever. It focuses on two people, Ryan and Jennifer, who share their struggles with overload and busyness.

The airline coined the term “humankinda” to describe a situation “when you’re so busy, you feel as if you’re losing your humanity.”

“Our nation is facing a problem,” Sam Richardson, star of the film, explains. “It affects every single one of us: everyone is so busy.”

Information Overload, however, is a serious and costly problem that cost the U.S. economy $997 billion in 2010, as noted in my book, Overload! How Too Much Information Is Hazardous To Your Organization. A minimum of 28 billion hours are lost each year to Information Overload in the United States and the results are telling: 66% of knowledge workers we surveyed feel they don’t have enough time to get all of their work done, while 94% of those surveyed at some point have felt overwhelmed by information to the point of incapacitation. Intel estimated that Information Overload affected its bottom line to the tune of $1 billion, a point at which shareholders would start to take notice if this figure showed up on a financial statement.

JetBlue produced the film in the hope that it would inspire people to recognize their own busyness and take action to regain a sense of work-life balance. “Our mission is to inspire humanity,” Phillip Ma, manager of branded advertising and content at the airline, told us. We found that people were so overloaded “that they were not able to be human and do things they valued in life.”

The movie addresses the question: why are we so busy?

There’s much at stake, Ma pointed out. “Look at what you are missing: friends, relationships, taking a vacation, being more creative,” adding that the problem of Information Overload can have an adverse impact on your health.

Indeed, Ma has sensed that impact on himself. “Last time I was on holiday and didn’t have a wireless connect I went through withdrawal,” he told me. “I was twitchy.”

Twitchy indeed. In the years running up to starting the Frequent Business Traveler, I was the chief analyst at Basex, a think tank focused on Information Overload. We saw first hand how Information Overload caused people to lose their ability to manage thoughts and ideas, contemplate, and even reason and think. We observed that it resulted in workdays that never seem to end, destroying work/life balance.

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