Work addiction

June 3, 2008

A sure sign of addiction is the existence of withdrawl symptoms. For work, these are manifested by a class of behaviors known as “disconnect anxiety“:

Picture this… You’re taking a long weekend hike with your family. You tell jokes, sing silly songs while admiring the trees and streams. You have no cell phone reception, no laptop; you haven’t answered a call, responded to a text or e-mail missive all day. You have absolutely no idea what it is going on at work.

Sixty eight percent of Americans feel anxious when they’re not connected in one way or another, they find, and this “disconnect anxiety”–feelings of disorientation and nervousness when a person is deprived of Internet or wireless for a period of time–affects all age groups, who described their feelings as dazed, tense, inadequate and even panicked.

The study also had a several points of humorously embarrassing data, such as the fact that 63 percent of BlackBerry users admit they have sent a message from the bathroom, and 37 percent of laptop owners said they “frequently” used theirs in the bedroom.

It seems that well off people are leading lives of quiet desperation. They are anxious and stressed at work. When they are not at work, they are even more anxious and stressed because they are anxious and stressed at not keeping up with the things at work that make them anxious and stressed while they are at work.

I don’t think it’s per se “technology addiction” which would include people who are Internet porn addicts, hopelessly absorbed gamers, and sleep deprived and obese bloggers. We may be slaves of the machine, but technology is only the enabler. We are anxious about our work, but even more anxious about not having the job that has the work we are obsessed to do. Not that we aren’t always at work, thanks to the technology. But we are afraid, very afraid. McMansions, private school educations, gasoline, health care — all expensive and way beyond most of our actual means. There’s little middle ground here. The alternative is economic obsolesence and poverty. Poverty is not noble and is quite dangerous. And you could be in poverty, homeless, just like that.



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