Who Are You, Really? The Reflection of Disconnect

When technology doesn’t work and we can’t do anything to fix it, we tap into feelings of anger and frustration, of being out of control of something we believe is vital to our well-being. When did we surrender that much power to inanimate objects, allowing them to wreak such havoc in our lives? It’s as if we really do want to believe in fairy tales and have decided technology is our surrogate happy ending. When we have our technology, we will live happily ever after. We have tied technology to personal happiness, which is unwise. Happiness in life should never … Continue reading

The Angst of Offline: Navigation

Of all the anxiety-producing categories, this is the one I identify with most. I have practically transferred my brain into my cell phone: it has archived all the names, places, dates, numbers, reminders, and notations – everything I can’t be troubled to remember. The first thing I do every morning is to check my calendar app to see what’s waiting for me. Without my cell phone, I would truly be lost. The amount of time and energy it would take to restore all that data is immense. The only time I’m ever really tempted to kiss a stranger is when … Continue reading

Instant Download: How Technology Warps Our Sense of Time

For several years I’ve been intrigued by my own perception of time. Part of it is age-related, I’m sure: the older I get, the more time seems to rocket into the future. The harder I try to catch up, the farther it seems out of reach. It’s age and kids and my particular time of life – but I don’t think that’s all it is. Part of this feeling that I’m never caught up, that I’m always behind, is cultural. As a society, our perception of time and the good, of what is instant and what is slow, has changed. … Continue reading

Behind the Screens: Are You Hiding In Plain Sight?

A woman I know with two small children is going through a difficult time in her life right now; she’s getting a divorce. Her husband left her abruptly, leaving her few options but to return to her hometown to live with her parents until she gets “settled.” Returning home feels to her like admitting defeat, like she’s unable to make it on her own. It’s hard for her to think about starting over in life, in relationships, in work; the whole thing is pretty overwhelming. I started noticing that whenever I’m on Facebook, so is she. I wondered, What are … Continue reading

How Severe Is Your Social Media Addiction?

There is nothing pathological about having fun and about feeling enjoyment. We were created with these feelings and this potential. Engaging in a pleasurable activity is not inherently wrong. But the line between activity and addiction lies at the crossroads where an activity that is positive or neutral takes a decidedly negative turn. With addictive behaviors that do not involve chemical substances – such as social media – there are a series of conditions you can use to determine severity. Importance: How important has it become to your sense of self and the way you life your life? You can … Continue reading

Are You Living In Constant Partial Attention?

Going online is compelling. There is so much to see and do, so many ways to connect. Maintaining your online presence while simultaneously navigating life requires something called continuous partial attention, according to Linda Stone, a former Apple and Microsoft executive, who first coined the phrase. She defines continuous partial attention this way: “To pay continuous partial attention is to pay partial attention – continuously. It is motivated by a desire not to miss anything and to be a live node on the network – in touch and seen by others.” It’s like having one foot in cyberspace and one … Continue reading

A Locked Front Door and a Wide Open Web: Unlimited Access

It’s interesting what we let into our homes and our lives and what we keep out. It’s interesting what we consider dangerous or a threat. Rarely do we know our neighbors anymore. We don’t let our kids walk home by themselves from school or play unsupervised in our neighborhoods. We tend to lock up our houses, deadbolt on the doors, and bar the windows. We keep out tangible, understandable threats but often leave ourselves wide open to the other kinds of dangers. Technology is a connection point. it is the way we reach out and connect – to information, to … Continue reading

Portrait of an Emotional Abuser: The Preacher

Carl knew it was coming. The real question was how long it would last. Depending on what kind of day his dad was having, it could be a few minutes or a half hour. If he didn’t have to bring back his progress report signed by a parent, he wouldn’t even have showed him his grades. Carl might have asked his mother to sign, but he knew her response would be, “Show your father.” Might as well get it over with. Carl shifted from foot to foot as he stood by the kitchen table watching his father read over his … Continue reading

Portrait of an Emotional Abuser: The Stand-Up Comic

“Jane’s such an airhead, it’s a wonder she doesn’t float away completely!” “Did you hear what Bob over in engineering did the other day? He was so busy figuring up his gas mileage, he ran out of gas!” “Like Shirley really deserved that raise! Like she’s so hard-working! The only thing she ever worked hard for around here is making the most of her coffee breaks!” “What a moron Joe down in the garage is! The only way he’s gonna move up in the world is to climb on top of a car!” The stand-up comic is just that – … Continue reading

Portrait of an Emotional Abuser: The One Who Is Always Right

Hand in glove with the overbearing opinion is the person who is always right. Overbearing-opinion abusers have an idea or opinion about everything. People who are always right do not make the same volume of pronouncements, but when they do, they always position themselves in the right and everyone else in the wrong. They will sift through events and information for proof of their rightness, bombarding anyone who questions them with a list of reasons why they are correct in their thinking. There is no room for a second opinion. Neutral in circumstances in which they have no interest, these … Continue reading