New syndrome: definition and treatment

Syn.drome

Noun: 1. A group of symptoms that consistently occur together or a condition characterised by a set of associated symptoms. 2. A characteristic combination of opinions, emotions, or behaviour

(dictionary.com)

Overwhelmed by Technology Syndrome (OTS) is a condition affecting more and more people. (I named this syndrome by the way – as in, made it up, today. It won’t necessarily come up in a Google search.)

The symptoms include anxiety, feelings of inferiority, lack of understanding often misdiagnosed as a lack of intelligence, redundancy and hopelessness. If you have OTS, then no matter what is going on in your technological world, you constantly feel so-last-year and when you go all-out to catch up to this year those feelings are rapidly replaced by feelings of being so-last-week. There are too many choices and you have no possibility of exploring them all, or downloading enough apps, or being at the cutting edge of anything because the edge keeps moving and so you feel forever in a very tame, un-cutting-edge kind of meadow of technological mediocrity and you watch – yearning, regretful – as others fling themselves – fearless, heroic – from the latest virtual cliffs.

I have OTS.

I work with an amazing group of people in the English Department of St Alban’s College, and with many others across the College community. We teach, eat, brainstorm, collaborate, mark, tweet, pray, blog and laugh together every day and we inspire each other enormously. We seem to egg each other on to be better than best, to fling ourselves and the boys we teach over those cliffs I mentioned earlier. We crave the adrenalin rush of teaching in fresh, dynamic, radical ways that plunge poetry, prose or parts of speech into the screen world of our teenage – and terrifyingly tech savvy – clientele. But for me the result has been a growing disquiet. Because I’ve realised that I suffer from many of the symptoms associated with this devastating syndrome.

Maybe this resonates with you? Maybe you also feel, in your work or play, that while the IT world is growing younger (and quicker, more powerful and just generally sexier) you are lagging breathlessly behind, and losing fitness.

If you’re not overwhelmed, watch this and you will be.

So how do you grow young inside in the realm of technology? What are the prescribed meds for OTS?

  1. Get perspective

Solomon said there’s nothing new under the sun (Ecclesiastes 1). Which means technology has been advancing (plodding at first) through the ages. Maybe the hieroglyphics stone carvers were really freaked out by the first avant-garde papyrus scribes. But they got through it. And so will we.

The other thing that isn’t new under the sun is that pendulums swing. Extremist behaviour leads to equal and opposite extremist behaviour. So while I don’t doubt for a second that the avalanche of technology will continue to gather crushing momentum, taking down all in its path unless you have this week’s snowboard software, I do think that perhaps some folks might choose to stand aside, watch the snow rush dangerously past, and then take a cable car.

  1. Accept

Accept the revolution for what it is. Accept that God has summoned each new generation from the beginning of time (Isaiah 41:4). You’re not here and now for nothing. We were born for such a time as this. And God knows how much you want a new iPad.

  1. Assess

God can use technology for his glory. But he doesn’t need it. So he might not.  Pray for discernment and wisdom. How does God want you to use technology? Does the way you use it now reflect his glory? Should you stop something you’re doing? (Note to self: no BBM while driving.) Should you start something? (E.g. Maybe more frequent facebooking will connect you with people who need to hear about Jesus?)

  1. Ask

For God’s help and direction. For his purposes to be accomplished in your life, for his glory. Trust him to help you use technology to open doors for the Kingdom. Pray that you’d never worship it.

Leave a comment! Do you ever feel overwhelmed, trying to keep up…?

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5 Comments on “New syndrome: definition and treatment”

  1. Jason Hutchison
    January 24, 2012 at 12:20 pm #

    Hi Ma’am. Your blog is the only one I read without fail. Your writing is creative and inspiring. It leaves me with a smile, every-time. I just wanted to say thank you!
    Much love,
    Hutch

  2. Esme Momberg
    January 24, 2012 at 1:19 pm #

    Amen! I was feeling somewhat isolated. But now I realise there are other OTS sufferers, just like me!!!

  3. Ashleigh
    January 24, 2012 at 1:42 pm #

    Funnily enough this is the second post running along this theme I’ve stumbled across this week (well, at least I think they’re connected). The other one came from a more secular source, but I found both it and yours thought provoking. Here’s a link if you’re interested. http://m.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2012/01/a-healthy-information-diet-the-case-for-conscious-consumption/251634/
    (I’m a friend of Ross’s who follows you on twitter – at his reccomentation – if you’re wondering who on earth I am).

  4. Ashleigh
    January 24, 2012 at 1:43 pm #

    Funnily enough this is the second post running along this theme I’ve stumbled across this week (well, at least I think they’re connected). The other one came from a more secular source, but I found both it and yours thought provoking. Here’s a link if you’re interested. http://m.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2012/01/a-healthy-information-diet-the-case-for-conscious-consumption/251634/
    (I’m a friend of Ross’s who follows you on twitter – at his recommendation – if you’re wondering who on earth I am).

  5. brooskolin
    January 24, 2012 at 9:41 pm #

    I fear I might be feeding your OTS… thank you for consistently and constantly challenging my paradigms

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