Monday, June 16, 2008

Disconnect Anxiety - Is it Real?

I stumbled on this article on the MSN Tech & Gadgets site and thought it would be a good topic to discuss in this my 2008 Year of Technology. I've posted before about the challenges of "unplugging" from our tech gadgets. And, I've even discussed the potential upsides of staying connected. Yet, I didn't know that there's now a phrase that describes the challenge -- Disconnect Anxiety.

You know it's serious stuff when there's talk of adding it (tech-related compulsion) to the updated manual of psychiatric disorders. This would be the dangerous level when the desire to stay connected overwhelms someone to the point it significantly impacts personal and professional relationships. It suggests that the compulsion to check email or text or "Twitter" others would be as strong as the pull people may feel from food or other controlled substances.

I do know that I'm a bit fascinated with my new laptop because of its newer features and software. I like the fact that I can check email on my BlackBerry when I'm on the road. And, to be honest, I felt a bit guilty when I couldn't check in or post to the blog when I was in St. Maarten as I said I would [I don't have international coverage yet]. Although speaking as a stress management coach, I don't believe I need an intervention just yet. I do manage to find some balance -- e.g., my BlackBerry doesn't chirp or buzz when I have a new email [OK, really b/c I didn't know how to change the setting at first]; I typically don't answer business email at night unless I've been out of the office all day.

What struck me most, perhaps, was the almost Catch-22 nature of our social networking tools and sites [including, GULP, this blog?!]. Could it be that the very systems we're creating to stay in touch and build networks are actually facilitating the problem? What do you think?

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