A technology psychologist ponders whether twitter, smartphones and push email alerts are making us sad in The New Scientist this week.
Yair Amichai-Hamburger author of Technology and Psychological Well-being says that people today experience more depression than previous generations and he thinks that technology might be responsible.
Though the wonders of smartphones, Wikipedia and Google massively increase what we can do and what we can find out, there’s nothing revolutionary in suggesting that getting your work email to your Blackberry invades your home life and makes you more stressed than you need to be. Equally managing bulging inboxes or being dictated to by the “check email/facebook/twitter” impulse stresses out us poor modern creatures too.
Anyway, what Mr Amichai-Hamburger proposes is a three-prong approach to making technology work for you, instead of the other way round. Again, ladies and gentlemen, this not rocket science but common sense. A little summary of what he recommends:
1. Autonomy – being in control. i.e.: When you check your email it’s because you want to check your email, not because you are dragged by some awful compulsion that means you can’t leave your inbox alone for five minutes, even though no-one has sent you a message for hours.
2. Competence – you need to feel that you are achieving stuff online: posting articles, answering emails, being effective at doing what you want to do.
3. Relatedness – that means being close to other people, and not letting gadgets get between you and your friends/family: like not checking your email while talking to your mum.
[See the full article with some helpful practical suggestions on the New Scientist]