Chapter 6 Excerpt: Technosuffering


(excerpt from Chapter 6: How to Suffer: in 10 easy steps…)

There is a new diagnostic for a new state of mental stress. Technostress is an emerging condition (property) that health practitioners are dealing with.

“People experience technostress when they cannot adapt to or cope with information technologies in a healthy manner. They feel compulsive about being connected and sharing constant updates, feel forced to respond to work-related information in real-time, and engage in almost habitual multi-tasking. They feel compelled to work faster because information flows faster, and have little time to spend on sustained thinking and creative analysis.”

Does all of the above really need to be addressed? Or are these just the natural growing pains of a new mode of living in the world? We’ve been here before. This is from the Greek philosopher Plato around 370 BC:

“For this discovery of yours will create forgetfulness in the learners’ souls, because they will not use their memories; they will trust to the external … and not remember of themselves… not truth, but only the semblance of truth; they will be hearers of many things and will have learned nothing; they will appear to be omniscient and will generally know nothing; they will be tiresome company, having the show of wisdom without the reality.”   — Plato, Phaedrus

He was talking about the new ability at that time to write things down for reference, instead of committing it to memory. But doesn’t it sound familiar? Is someone buried in their cell phone “tiresome company”?

Technosuffering takes this to a new level. (Or should we say: Upgrades this to a higher rev level?) Technosuffering occurs when the stress, frustration, and helplessness associated with technology gets so much, the threshold (TOS) is reached and someone “blows their top” (that’s a technical term).

An excellent example is from the up and maybe coming movie: How to Suffer: Digital Dialysis.  Here is the script from one scene.

EXTERIOR. DRIVEWAY. LATE AFTERNOON.A WOMAN in her late 30’s, CAROL, is running out of her house to her Luxury german SUV and talking to someone on her smartphone.

CAROL: “I’ve got to go. I’m meeting the First Lady this evening and have to get my hair done.”

She jumps in the SUV, puts the phone in its cradle and roars out. She barks a command to TIRI, her SUV’s digital assitant.

CAROL: “TIRI – take me to Orlando’s hair salon.”

TIRI: “Your navigation app needs to be updated to the new OS.”
Apparently CAROL’s phone automatically updated the phone’s new OS last night.

CAROL: “TIRI – update NAVIPRO now!”

TIRI: “I do not have security access to your password. Go to settings-> passcodes->apps and input your passcode.”

CAROL: “I don’t know what the damn passcode is.”

TIRI: “Should I google ‘damn passcode’?”
CAROL mumbles a curse and pulls over. She searches her phone for her passcodes and finds it in NOTES. She goes to update the NAVIPRO app, puts in the passcode and the app begins to download. Slowly.

She starts tapping her foot impatiently, then remembers to connect the phone to her WiFi in the car. She connects but that causes the download to interrupt so she has to go through the entire download sequence again. Finally she slams the  phone back in its cradle:

CAROL: “TIRI – take me to Orlando’s hair salon.”

TIRI: “What is the address?”

CAROL: “I input it to NAVIPRO last night! Oh shit, it must have gotten lost in the upgrade. Let me look it up.”

TIRI: ”What!? Do not look up while driving. Access denied.”

CAROL: “It’s Orlando Hair, 1845 Northwest First Street.”

TIRI: “Contacting NAVIPRO.”

NAVIPRO: “ich verstehe nicht”

CAROL: “Fuck! Not that again. TIRI tell NAVIPRO to talk English not German.”

TIRI: “Go to NAVIPRO->Setting->Languages.”
CAROL yanks the phone back, makes the change and throws the phone on the passenger seat and floors it.

CAROL: “NAVIPRO take me to Orlando’s.”

NAVIPRO: “Where would you like to go?”

CAROL: “WHAT!?!?!”
She looks for the phone and runs over a curb. There’s a loud thunk and the SUV starts wobbling.

SUV: “Tire pressure is low. Proceed to authorized service station immediately.”

CAROL: “Fuck that! I need to get my hair done. I’m going to meet the First Lady tonight. I am going to Orlando’s!!!”

SUV: “You are not proceeding to the nearest service center. Follow your navigation.”

CAROL: “Double fuck that! I will uber!”

NAVIPRO: “UBER? Wohin gehen wir?”

SUV: “ACHTUNG! Sprechst du Deutsch?”

NAVIPRO: “So gut, einen Bürger zu hören!”

This scene drags on for a while more, with NAVIPRO and the SUV speaking German to each other. CAROL parks the disabled SUV because it refuses to go over 5 mph with low tire pressure, calls for UBER, has to download the new UBER app for the new OS and the phone runs out of charge. She sits by the SUV: TIRI-eyed->crying->Technosuffering.

Yes everyone: It’s true -> it’s real -> it’s here now:

Easy Step #8: Let Technology be your Guide.