More Modern Anxiety Disorders — This Time It's Broadband

from the what-have-we-wrought? dept

For some time, we’ve been hearing about disorders related to information overload in our modern world of instant communications. Those early theories of Internet-related stress problems seem quaint by today’s standards, in which each technological advance brings with it more angst. Two days ago it was iTunes playlist anxiety, today Om Malik discusses his experience with Internet anxiety disorder, as he calls it. Besides the standard offline media, wired/wireless phone calls and messages, he’s also inundated with IMs, hundreds of unanswered emails, and thousands of unread newsreader posts. Everything’s backlogged, and he can’t keep up. The culprit in his mind is broadband, which could bring on the next big malaise of the century. Yes, we are swimming in a sea of information, and it does have its downside. But technology doesn’t seem completely to blame here. Perhaps it’s more of a reflection of our culture and our need for immediate and constant communication, gratification, stimulation, [fill in the blank]-tion. Stress comes more from the use of the technology than its mere presence. In fact, if technology had a hand creating the problem, maybe it can also help fix it. Or maybe it’s all just a vicious cycle. Tools such as newsreaders are designed to save time by filtering information, but instead they can generate more. So, next there will be a technology designed to deal with that problem — and it will create a different issue, which will require another technology. What were we just saying about automation creating new jobs?

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