Technostress

Techno-eustress: Understanding the real effects of technological zeitgeist

 

The Digital Divide

Article by the Online Stress Summit’s expert Seán D. Waters, the founder of the Stress Less Clinic®, and trade mark claim for Technostressology™. (1/10/ 2018)

Sean faceWe are living in amazing times where the world is only a “click” away. We hominis are communicating with each other using our digits, manus, vox activation activity, visual reality, cerebrum activated activity and AI (Artificial Intelligence) which helps us enormously in our daily activities like never before.

How amazing it is that we can search for almost anything that enters our “Google” (cerebrum). The homini cerebrum performs some very sophisticated ordering of its incoming nerve pulses. Any information that we become exposed to, becomes knowledge when it is translated and related to our personal experiences as well as to our feelings, emotions and desires. There is a reciprocal relationship between the area of the cerebrum responsible for logical thinking as well as, the area that is responsible for our emotions.

Should we not embrace the exciting world of technology? Should we not allow a natural technological world to enter our lives just as nature does by nurturing our cognitive, emotional, physical and psychological well-being?

The meanings which we homini’s strive to obtain can be found in our responses to life. We are unique hominis and with the aid of technology we can grow our talents, capabilities and inner strengths-we are no longer totally at the mercy of fate! Why should we blame technology and hold the victim stance? Meaning cannot be arbitrarily invented, it must be discovered. Viktor Frankl points out three ways of discovering meaning:

  1. by creating work or accomplishing a task;
  2. by experiencing something in life (such as goodness, truth, and beauty) or by encountering another person in the uniqueness of the other’s existence through love; or
  3. by the attitude that a person takes toward unavoidable suffering (Frankl, 1959, MSM, p. 133-134).

There has never been so much potential in the use of our cerebrum, digits and manus. There is something deeper in the homini: a new value system that has inspired a new zeitgeist.

There is a desire for meaning and purpose, a positive impact over a material gain, a preference for sharing and giving not always owing and taking, a willingness to break down obstacles and to rather connect the dots, with vigor and enthusiasm to find new solutions to distressing problems. These are some of the values of the new zeitgeist.

No longer are these the values of young fantasists only. They are the values held by the modern world homini’s of all generations across the globe. They are the dominant values of the generation that is coming of age presently. The people who uphold these values have the ability to effect real change on a gigantic scale.

Are we not on the edge of the fourth industrial revolution? Many experts seem to think so and have even suggested that we’re already living through it. “It’s not the next revolution – it’s already here,” said Klaus Schwab.

Technostress was defined by Craig Brod (1984) in his book Technostress: The Human Cost of the Computer Revolution, as “a modern disease of adaptation caused by an inability to cope with the computer technologies in a healthy manner”. This was 34 years ago when a computer weighed 1.8kg compared to a computer today weighing only 0.8kg, amongst other comparisons.

The last survey of psychiatric disorders among American youth was conducted more than a decade ago. There are very few surveys reporting increased anxiety in adolescents, which are based on self-reported measures from children or their parents who tend to overestimate the rates of disorders because they detect only mild symptoms, not clinically syndromes.

The belief or myth is that our youth have unhealthy relationships with technology. We are yet to hear about a case where a teenager was admitted to the emergency department presenting with a severe case of technostress.

“Should we not consider the possibility that parents have bought into the idea that their teenagers are ever anxious due having easy access to digital technology, smartphones, video games and the like that are neurobiologically and psychologically toxic.”

If this notion is to be believed, then it seems intuitive that the generations growing up with these ubiquitous technologies are destined to suffer from psychological problems, which is a dubious notion coming from only a handful of studies with serious limitations.

Some studies report an association between increased time spent on electronic communication and screens and lower levels of psychological well-being. The problem with this is that they only show correlation. Would it not be possible that teenagers who are more anxious and unhappy to start with, are more drawn to smartphone communication to deflect their negative emotions than their better-adjusted peers?

The current digital divide is one that promises to continue into the future and one that is generational. Technology has an obsoleting impact on those with true skills, and the speed at which technology changes. It is almost impossible for some to keep up to date with current technology.

Millennials and generation alpha that have grown up with technology are informed and comfortable with themselves. Unfortunately those who are older like generation X, the baby boomers and traditionalists must “learn it” and often have difficulty in seeing the relevance and “don’t bother” this is too much trouble. Unfortunately, generation X and even the baby boomers are convinced that electronic social media is a waste of time. The paradox is that many seniors started using Facebook in order to see pictures of their grandchildren. Many need a reason to push ahead with new technology while others don’t see any reason. This is not a new phenomenon, as people who are immovable in their ways are not open to change. Succinctly, middle-aged and senior adults must keep up with modern technology if they want to keep up with the times.

So how is Techno-eustress embraced?

  1.  Individual:
    1. Solve tech problems yourself by: looking for help; using a search engine and typing in a simple question relating to the problem; read the trouble shooting suggestions and try to see if they work (no, you will not lose your information even if you press delete); ask for help from a colleague, friend or geek; practice and make sure that you understand what it is that you are having trouble with. Rebooting or refreshing is often the best way to start again.
    2. Spend time researching and understanding the devise and software that you intend purchasing, and remember to purchase the current and latest version. When unpacking the purchase, ensure that you understand how to use the devise and application. Remember that practice makes perfect.
    3. Keep your devise in good working order, and if prompted to upgrade the software, do so and make sure that understand the new version.
  2. Professionals: Search the net for relevant technological devises, hardware and software pertaining to your profession.
  3. Non-professionals: Ensure that you clearly understand the devise/machine that you have been allocated/ assigned to. Don’t be afraid to ask a supervisor or manager for assistance.
  4. Middle-aged and senior adults: There are amazing devises and technological aids that are available and can enhance your quality of life, as well as your lifestyle, improve your social interaction and help you not to isolate.

In essence, technology is amazing, inspiring and fulfilling. Technology allows us to connect and understand the world and its peoples, including the mystical universe.

However, we need to be mindful of balancing our technological stressors by adopting a techno-eustress attitude which we can use in our everyday lives, while still making the time to communicate directly with each other face to face, and especially with our loved ones 🙂

Author: Seán D. Waters, founder of the Stress Less Clinic®, and trade mark claim for Technostressology™.

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