When Technology Addiction Takes Over Your Life
Are you a tangled mess of BlackBerrys, emails, PDAs, iPhones, laptops, and cell phones? Here’s how to untangle your life and find healthy balance.
Jenn Hoffman, Phoenix-based CEO of The J Brand Group, should have been
enjoying a relaxing vacation on the Cote d'Azur. Sipping champagne and nibbling
on cheese at the posh Louis XV restaurant, she was eagerly awaiting her entree,
a poached Breton lobster. But then, poised next to the breadbasket, her
BlackBerry Pearl came to life, and so did her technology addiction.
She lunged for it and swiftly pecked out a response to my request for
BlackBerry anecdotes: "I'm so addicted to this device that I stopped
mid-bite to rush to send this message. My dining partners are staring at me
with contempt as I write this."
"My BlackBerry runs my life," Hoffman says. She's got a 24/7
technology habit, even checking messages from the bathroom, a Whistler ski
lift, and a pool raft at L.A.'s Chateau Marmont hotel. Her boyfriend calls her
laptop, which she brings to bed every night, "the other man."
Hoffman is not alone in dealing with technology overload. Email, PDAs,
iPhones, laptops, and cell phones dominate our modern world. Our uber-connected
lives have made us virtually available at any time, at any place -- the movies,
the golf course, traffic lights, you name it. Here, we look at simple
strategies to reduce the electronic overload and regain a healthy balance of life, work,
(Are you addicted to technology? What electronic
toy can you just not live without? Compare with others on WebMD's
Health Cafe board.)
The Paradox of Modern Life
We are now more wired than ever. Researchers from the University of Glasgow
found that half of the study participants reported checking their email once an
hour, while some individuals check up to 30 to 40 times an hour. An AOL study
revealed that 59 percent of PDA users check every single time an email arrives
and 83 percent check email every day on vacation.
"I live and die in email," says IT manager Christopher Post in Camp
Hill, Pa. "I found a PDA to be a double-edged sword. It can certainly allow
you to do a lot more in any given day, but there is certainly a cost
associated. I tend to lose out on a lot of other experiences, like when I
should be paying attention at the dinner table."
You've got to take back control, says Edward Hallowell, MD, author of
CrazyBusy: Overbooked, Overstretched, and About to Snap! "The great
thing about modern life is you can do so much," he says, "and the curse
of modern life is you can do so much."
It's the new epidemic, Hallowell says. "People joke about being crazy
busy. Sometimes they brag about it, like being busy is a status symbol. But
they don't realize that it's as harmful for them as obesity or cigarette smoking."