There’s little doubt that technology has changed the ways in which people carry out everyday tasks. Modern IT systems mean businesses are more productive and people generally better connected than they were twenty years ago. What doesn’t get talked about so much, is the negative impact this progress may be having on our minds.
Is it too strong a statement to say that as technology evolves, infiltrating our daily lives, it rewires our brains and affects the way we function?
Well, experts warn of a number of modern syndromes that are challenging our ability to unwind. Below are descriptions of the top three conditions. Read them for yourself and decide how many symptoms you are exhibiting. You know what they say – admitting you have a problem is the first step in making a recovery.
[themecolor]The fear of missing out (FOMO)[/themecolor]
FOMO – the ‘fear of missing out’ – is a real concern for many these days. Everyone’s connected to the wider world, even when there’s not another human being for miles. Traditional media has provided this to an extent but not in the instantaneous way we’ve become used to over the last few years. It’s become so normal, in fact, that symptoms of anxiety and frustration are common among those whose limited battery lives force them to withdraw.
What’s more social media such as Instagram and Facebook lead us to question the validity of our own lives when we see a constant stream of pictures and videos showing friends and colleagues travelling the world and attending endless parties. Ten years ago, you may have felt unadventurous sitting at home on a Saturday night with a glass of wine and a good book. But modern technology compounds this paranoia. Even if all night raves are not really your thing, you’ll probably recognise that pang: “Should I be doing something more interesting than this?” That is FOMO.
[themecolor]The consumer that never sleeps[/themecolor]
With stimulation available every second of the day via modern mobile devices, it’s understandable that some people struggle to switch off when the time comes for rest.
For many people these days, it’s normal to fall asleep beside the glowing and humming of a laptop or tablet and this could be altering the way we sleep. Some scientists have even claimed that our internal body-clocks are being affected. What’s more, most business people awake to the sound of a smartphone these days, plunging them straight into a world of technology before they’ve even had a chance to speak to another person.
[themecolor]Phantom vibration syndrome[/themecolor]
Is that my phone ringing? It seems we are now hard-wired to assume people are calling us even when they are not. In a study published by the journal Computers and Human Behavior, researchers found that 89% of the undergraduates they polled reported feeling “phantom vibrations,” the physical sensation that their mobile was vibrating, even when it wasn’t, once every two weeks. A survey of hospital workers revealed similar results.
It has been suggested that physical sensations, like an itch, are now being misinterpreted by human brains as a vibrating mobile phone. Clearly something different is being triggered by our brains today than was being triggered before mobile phones existed. Evidence, some might argue, that technology is becoming an extension of the human body.