Technology: The Reason You are Stressed, Depressed and Bored

bus
Creative Commons License photo credit: Bert Kommerij

“In Tibet you would send a letter and not expect a reply for six months. Now if people send an email and don’t get a reply in 30 seconds they get angry.” – Tai Situ

How long can you go without checking your email? If you find a juicy bit of gossip do you have to Tweet it to everyone you know? Do you SMS more than you talk? Most of us do.And it is making us stressed, depressed and utterly bored with life.

In this post I want to talk about how I believe technology is causing us a lot of problems. In particular I hope the parents reading this will carefully consider the impact all this technology is having on their children.

What technology?

I am going to refer to “technology” a lot in this post so I thought I should clear up what I am talking about. Basically I am referring to media like Twitter, Facebook, iPhones and iPods, Blackberrys, etc. Technology that is providing entertainment. I am not referring to advances in medicine, international travel, etc.

The iPhone, the cafe and addiction

A few days ago I was sitting in a cafe waiting for a friend. I noticed that a lot of people were sitting alone and almost every one of them had an iPhone or Blackberry. Every new visitor to the cafe sat down and within 20 second was flipping away on the phone looking for apps, news or Twitter.

This, to me, is the epitome of the problem with technology – we cannot live without it. This media has become so addictive and we have come to rely on it so much, we wouldn’t know how to live without the constant stimulation. And therein lies the problem.

Technology and its links to stress, depression and boredom

Boredom
Creative Commons License photo credit: PaperThinSerge

We are constantly stimulated by technology. We are constantly in need of a “hit” and over time that need escalates, just like the need for a drug. We are addicted to technology and it is causing stress, depression and boredom. Here’s why:

Technology and stress
The reason I believe technology is causing us to be stresses is simple – we are speeding up too much. Our lives are lived in a constant rush and this is majorly caused by advancing technologies. Think about the news; 10 years ago if you wanted news you had to wait for the evening report or the paper in the morning. Now if you want news you go on Twitter to see if there is any Trending Topics or you jump on your mobile to see what the latest news app is saying. Its fast.

And while I can see the upsides to this (great access to information, etc.) I am also acutely aware that it is causing people problems. They cannot go for very long without an update. They feel like everything has to be done at a cracking pace. And they get stressed when they haven’t had a hit in a while.

Leo Babauta over at Zen Habits has a new eBook out which is all about living simply with minimal clutter. This is what he is talking about. All the technology and speed that we have in our lives is making us stressed and the sad thing is, we don’t need to be.

Technology and depression
The relationship between technology and depression is more subtle but I wanted to write about it because I have experienced it myself. I would love to hear some reader feedback about this one.

As my long time readers will know, I used to be a bit of a gamer. My brother and I would spend hours play Call of Duty, Counter Strike and even World of Warcraft. But after a while we both started noticing something – we were depressed. There was a really empty feeling that just wouldn’t go away. After a while we linked it to the games because we realized that we were so overstimulated and when the games were off we hit a low; kind of like a sugar hit that inevitably leads to a crash. But it was more long lasting and powerful.

And media and technology are like that. We are constantly Tweeting, Facebooking and listening to music that when it all stops at the end of the day we feel depressed. Our senses finally get a moment to relax and we feel terrible. We feel alone. I think that technology is making a lot of us depressed.

Technology and boredom
The last one is obvious as it is closely tied in with the other two. Technology is making us bored. Why? Because we need bigger and bigger hits. Listening to music is no longer exciting, we need a massive show or an LCD screen in our music player. The addition to stimulation is escalating.

I actually think this phenomena is quite dangerous as the younger generation now needs bigger hits to be entertained. The simple pleasures in life are no longer enough because they have experienced amazing things all the time from such a young age. I think it has a lot to do with why drugs and alcoholism are so prevalent. But I could be wrong.

Next time you have a break from work become aware of what you want to do. I am betting you shy away from relaxing and sitting back and grab for a phone, a TV or some Facebook action. Being still and alone is no longer enough for us.

Creating a need, not solving a problem

The interesting thing about this media and technology is that the new innovations do not solve a problem or need, they create one. In the old days marketing firms would sit down and think about some problems that people had and then try to create a technology to solve that problem. Not anymore! Now they create technologies and make us feel like we need it. In fact, I now think that these things create more problems than they solve.

What do you think?

24 thoughts on “Technology: The Reason You are Stressed, Depressed and Bored

  1. I have recently started following your posts, and I love to read them.
    This one was truly insightful. But being an engineer, I am not sure how I can stay away from technology. Any suggestions?

  2. Hi Shri.

    Thanks for your compliments.

    I am a web designer by trade so, like you, I am always on the computer or surrounded by technology. I think the important thing is to be AWARE of yourself when you are craving for it. Notice what is going on in your mind. You don’t necessarily have to avoid it but start to become aware of how attached you are to it.

    If you can do that I think the habit will start to decrease.

    TDM

  3. I’ve been subscribed to your posts for a few months now, but this one needed the comment. I find it interesting that you talk about becoming aware of technology’s impact, yet you have links to twitter, facebook, etc. It made me laugh.

  4. Great read, but then at the bottom of the article I see… “Follow me on Twitter for more quotes, life-tips and conversations…” maybe the change can start here…? 🙂

  5. It is through this medium that I will gradually pull you away from it! lol

    Actually, like I said in response to the first comment, I think it is important to become aware of the impact of media in your own mind. If it isn’t a problem and you can learn to control it then there isn’t an issue.

    Thanks for pointing out the irony though. Now follow me on Twitter.

  6. You know, I just don’t like twitter that much.. it’s like broadcast SMS/Text messaging..

    I don’t need to know anything that instantaneously.. Maybe actual news, but not necessarily someone’s musings about their life or how they just took a crap or made a tuna sandwich mayo not miracle whip today..

    Ya know what I mean…?

  7. Yeah for sure. I am very careful about who I follow. The information can be quite interesting if done correctly.

    There is a saying: Facebook is for people you know and Twitter is for people you wish you knew. I try just follow people who will inspire me when I need it.

    TDM

  8. Holy Cow!

    I”ve been reading your articles for a month now and I think they’re fantastic, your timing on this is impeccable.

    I had enough of facebook last week and in a moment of strength got rid of my account. The interesting thing that happened was that while people were calling and messaging me to ask me why I got rid of it, I actually had real conversations!

    Instead of just creeping each other, we were actually communicating.

    I’m working very hard at making life more simple and articles like this make a big difference.

    Thank you
    -Adam

  9. Another more insidious side effect of using all this technology is that we lose our face to face communication skills. People who can write creative witty responses on message boards yet they cannot handle a real live conversation.

  10. There was a documentary an the ABC a few years a go ( yes I’m a nerd)about this entire sub culture of Japanese kids who haven’t left their bedrooms in years. They eat, sleep and live in the room, always on their computers. They are actually incapable of holding a conversation with anyone including their parents. For the record I blame the parents since they keep feeding ( literally) the problem. If they didn’t bring them food then the kids would soon leave their rooms or starve to death.

  11. Hey TDM,

    Great post, as usual! Very relevant to me actually, as I’m one of the few people I know without a Facebook account.

    I quit Facebook late last year. All my work colleagues had started to pile in on the craze. I’m 23, some of them are in their 60s and it just didn’t feel right. I know how terribly ageist that sounds but I can’t help it. More importantly though, as we are nurses, there is the potential for some serious breaches of patient confidentiality via Facebook. I just didn’t want to be part of that.

    Secondly, I spent too much time checking out what my fiancee’s ex-girlfriend was up to. When I met Stu, I knew very little about her. Through Facebook, a nagging curiousity became a quiet obsession. Eventually I found the resolve to quit and I’ve never looked back. In fact I’m glad I don’t have to clear all the sheep/flowers/quiz invites from my inbox on a daily basis. That has really reduced my stress levels!

    I do, however, have an iPhone and you kinda made me feel guilty about it. I am one of those in the cafe! LOL! I admit, the iPhone is permanently attached to me. But I use it a lot because it is expensive and I want to justify the cost. However, it’s not all bad. Since I can’t put it down, I am texting and phoning more and taking more pictures. I am halfway through Wuthering Heights, regularly planet-spot and am learning the world capitals again, all through my apps. I even have meditation tracks and a gratitude journal on there. You’d be proud, TDM, you really would!

    I agree with your final words: we are being persuaded that we need these technologies. We don’t. I will text, phone and meet up with those people who I really want in my life.

    Off the strength of this post, I might shut my Twitter account and go back to what I was doing with the net eight years ago: reading and writing fanfiction and blogging. I get more satisfaction from those than I have through any empty social media site, and I think that’s the key.

  12. Thanks for this post. I am on facebook and often feel depressed after logging off…no messages, stupid updates, ridiculous quizzes…who cares!
    It’s created a brand new way for us to feel rejected and isolated. I never wanted to see pictures of my ex boyfriend’s fiancee, but there she is!! 🙂

    It can be the same with email. How much of it is meaningful? Probably less than 1 percent. It makes me sad.

    It’s not a black and white issue, of course. But we are expected to process so much information so quickly now that we are left with our head spinning. At least I am anyway.

  13. I am reading and commenting on your posts while on my iPhone. I do most of my reading this way while commuting to and from work on trains.
    That way I can spend less time on the computer when I am at home.
    I spend a bit of time on facebook each morning to catch up messages from family and friends, and to promote any latest posts from my blog.
    I skype with family and friends abroad during weekends.
    I have also learned to switch off my phone when I am out on a date with my wife.

    Your point is valid though. You should control technology, and not the other way round.

  14. I couldn’t agree more with this article.

    I met a girl a few months ago who had deleted her Facebook and Twitter. She put it quite simply:

    “How many of the people you communicate with on these sites are people that you actually KNOW and spend time with?”

    I thought about it for a while, and I realized – the people I spend the most time “talking” to online are the people that I see in person perhaps once a year – if that.

    Keeping in touch via technology is great for people who don’t live nearby.

    I talk to the girl who has the room next to mine more via Facebook and texting than I do face to face. This week I initiated an effort to spend time with all of my roommates, a little “roomie party,” – but it didn’t happen.

    The girl on the other side of the wall didn’t respond to my Facebook message ]=

    It really is sad and pathetic how much people are addicted to these things. When I go to a movie, most people are flipping open their phones while the credits are still rolling – before they even stand up to leave the theater! If you can’t go 2 hours without contact with the outside world, I think you have a serious problem.

    Same is said for when you do spend time with someone, and they spend the entire time texting other people. It’s like, come on, really?

    Unfortunately, my job involves maintaining a Facebook and Twitter account for the business, so I can’t stay off those sites.

    I’m trying to make a point of limiting my time with technology though. I turn my Blackberry off at 9pm every night. Tuesdays (when it’s not raining), I go to a park and spend a few hours reading – reading an actual BOOK, made of paper and everything.

    I would also like to point out how bad dependency on technology can be when things like the TD Bank glitch happen. I don’t know all the details, but google it if you haven’t heard about it.

    What good is all this technology actually doing in the end?

  15. I am a web designer by trade so, like you, I am always on the computer or surrounded by technology. I think the important thing is to be AWARE of yourself when you are craving for it. Notice what is going on in your mind. You don’t necessarily have to avoid it but start to become aware of how attached you are to it.

    If you can do that I think the habit will start to decrease.

  16. This, to me, is the epitome of the problem with technology – we cannot live without it. This media has become so addictive and we have come to rely on it so much, we wouldn’t know how to live without the constant stimulation. And therein lies the problem.

  17. Actually, you would be surprised just how quickly you would adapt if all this techno went away. After a couple days of feeling lost you would adapt to the new way of life.

  18. Right on! When my net goes down for a few hours, I feel really lost. I have no idea what to do with time in hand. Also need to check my mail every few hours. Really bad!

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