Welcome back to the Detox From Technology Stress Project.
I have few answers and more questions. The phone is not the problem when used as a phone. I can now pin point exactly the source of my distress.
In the “E-Life in the new Millennium: Promise or more techno stress” Larry Losen, PhD, asks a very interesting question: “Is your life easier with all the new technology?”
My life may be easier but it’s not simpler. I miss simple.
Today, there are many ways to communicate. I could be texting, Facebook-ing (is that even a word?) my friend in Albania, emailing a business associate while watching a Youtube video and on hold with my bank.
EVERYONE TALKS BUT ARE WE CONNECTING?
We have become experts in multitasking. But has it really made us happier?
What am I going to do with the time I just saved multitasking? Get more things done? Even vacations are not really a break from technology stress. My phone contains every outlet I need to keep me occupied 24/7 even when I’m on vacation. What happened to just being? After all, as my yoga instructor used to say ‘we are human beings not human doings.”
In 2008, the National consumer electronic association, found that 8 out of 10 teenagers cannot imagine their day without technology. 80% of teens, 12-17 years old, use social networks weekly and are likely to spend 15-20 hours a day online, on the computer, using email, texting, playing video games, Skype-ing, IM-ing, listening to music or watching TV.
OK you probably missed that. I’ll repeat.
15-20 hours per day.
I didn’t grow up in the internet era. Growing up in Albania, we had one television channel (damn the communists) and it didn’t start programming until 6 PM. Those were the days!
Today, technology is accessible and super cool. Twitter is genius. Tweets are reshaping the English language as we speak (or tweet). Facebook has the amazing ability to foster our voyeuristic tendencies, help with social awkwardness and encourage the adult “imaginary audience” syndrome. Text lingo is fascinating (I’m still trying to figure out what yours meant.)
I love being able to watch the latest TED videos, listen to NPR, browse CNN or other interesting news and latest research in psychology, read my favorite blog, etc. They keep me informed, connected and inspired.
But, there is one problem with all this wonderful technology.
This is an expectation of immediate response to a non-urgent message or request. For instance, an email, Facebook comment or text message produces psychological pressure to respond right away, simply because you can. A quick response produces instant gratification that over time will condition you to expect a response at an unreasonable speed. It also causes you to depend on the response too much.
Any type of perceived urgency will produce a stress-response in the brain. Over-time, being exposed to too much technology may contribute to a chronic stress state which leads to irritability, anxiety, depression, sleep disturbance, etc.
Communication through technology is not representative of our face-to-face experiences, it does not obey unspoken social laws and limits access to non-verbal ques. Online, we have limited ability to fact-check that things are really what they appear to be, therefore many interactions are often unrealistic. This is especially true in online dating.
Is technology-aided communication simply conversations we have in our head?
I crave face-to-face contact. Don’t you?
Limiting my technology stress is already working. I feel more energized, focused and surprisingly calmer.
To be continued…