Category Archives: Technology

Technostress: State of Overwhelm

I love this jazzy tune, State of the Art (A.E.I.O.U.) by Jim James. Not only is it a great song, it conveys a very thought-provoking message about the impact technology is having on all of us as we navigate this 21st Century chaos, or what I call “technostress” in chapter eight of my book, The Global Kindness Revolution.

Here’s a sample of the lyrics:

I use my state of the art technology

Supposed to make for better living

But are we better human beings…?

This idea he’s presenting is something we’ve all considered at one point or another if we’re truly honest. Make no mistake, I appreciate the miracles of technology and all of the convenience it affords us. From a broader perspective I’m a firm believer in finding balance. In this high-tech environment, we must make room for mindfulness–disconnecting from the noise and really tapping into our awareness of what it means to maintain a healthy state of being when our being isn’t deluged or dominated by technology. Of course, this includes spending time in nature, meditation, or whatever brings you a sense of serenity. Not only does that improve our psyche, it enhances our relationships as we’re more inclined to connect with others in ways that don’t rely on texting or email.

Think about it. And give James’ song a listen!

Here’s a section from Chapter 8 of my book: “Does Technology Make us Kinder?”

Does technology in some way cause us to lose our humanity as Cohen suggests in the opening quote? Some studies indicate that today’s youth are less compassionate, more self-centered and hungrier for approbation than previous generations.

Will the scares like cell phones giving us cancer just add to the stress of thinking about what to avoid in the ongoing list of things that cause cancer? Just how safe are all these gadgets over long-term use? No one really knows. Most of the chemicals in our environment have never been tested for their effects on humans. For example, when we were kids in the summers we used to run gleefully in the spray of the mosquito control truck, and we played on x-ray machines in the shoe departments of department stores, or the mercury in the “silver” amalgam fillings in our mouths, perhaps planting the seed of some kind of cancer decades hence. We can only pray that in this toxic soup in which we all live we’ll be relatively healthy and of sound mind, mobile and untouched by ADHD and the devil of dementia when we age.

Here we are in an epidemic of technology, which so many of us find daunting and overwhelming. At a time in our lives when some of us want to wind down a bit, we’re confronted with the choice of feeling extraordinarily stupid while we learn to work these damn things, which is bad for aging egos. Or we decide not to plug in at all to this virtual world, thereby signing up permanently for old age and a much smaller world. The choice is always ours, but if we have grandchildren nearby who are internet savvy, we can move forward despite feeing embarrassed by our inadequacies when it comes to technology.

Some of us of a certain age choose to capitulate to our discomfort as our analogue brains feel stupid trying to adjust to a foreign digital world. Without the help of my IT son, Doug, none of my books would ever have been written.

Be gentle with us.

~WHY I LOVE TECHNOLOGY~

When my friend Bea recently lost her healthy, sixty-six year old daughter, Caren Cross, to an aneurism, she was unable to attend the memorial service in a hard to reach town in Mexico, where her daughter lived. So we had a gathering of friends and relatives in the community room in our condo, with flowers, food and a Skype setup, allowing us to share in a simultaneous ceremony in celebration of Caren’s life. I love technology!

Maybe you have a grandbaby far away that you’d read stories to over Skype? Or you want to email to friends, sharing jokes and experiences, keeping yourself connected however virtual. For news junkies it’s a way to get a broader though often slanted view of political happenings or the latest in celebrity gossip. Soldiers can communicate with loved ones from the battlefront. Would the revolutionary spirit released in the Middle East have happened without smartphones? What would the social scene look like without internet dating?

You can look up relatives, old friends, old lovers and classmates on Facebook, which is a mixed bag, unfortunately threatening many a marriage like some Congressmen have learned. But the ability to reconnect with those from your past opens up rewarding opportunities. An example of this is Ancenstry.com where you can trace your family lineage. Pick any random subject you have a curiosity about and Google will fetch buckets of information. Technology has expanded our awareness in ways we never could’ve imagined.

~WHY I HATE TECHNOLOGY~

With all of the spoils technology has afforded us, there’s a price to be paid for its magical conveniences. We’ve all seen and experienced the downsides individually and on a collective level. Some are more detrimental than others. As discussed in Chapter 5, cyberbullying is one of the most damaging repercussions of the technological era. Child pornography is another nefarious offshoot of the virtual realm. These are the more grievous examples of why I hate technology. Other examples that range from petty annoyances to sad truths about how we’re losing our human connection. Real world interactions have become diluted by the ceaseless stream of electronic information, causing our focus to be splintered, not to mention the more dangerous distractions such as texting while driving. This is the new normal we’ve all been plunged into, for better or for worse…