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November 7th, 2018
Today is National Stress Awareness day and this year’s theme for the campaign is ‘Does Hi-Tech Cause Hi-Stress?’
I asked some of our team members what they thought of the question and whether technology has positive or negative effects on the user’s mental health.
The vast and rapid proliferation of social media and rapid advance of technological gadgets within the home has had an impact on most of us. From the never ending “need” to connect with the world via Facebook, WhatsApp or Instagram to tasking our friends Alexa, Echo or Siri to manage our lives, we have all become increasing dependant and reliant on technology.
These advances have led to a major paradigm shift in how we interact with each on a social level and how we organise our lives. From having music playlists compiled, changing the TV channel by voice command to recommending what we buy, the companies behind these products and services are silently shaping how each of us interact with both ourselves and others.
The inherent need to be “liked”, befriended and noticed on social media has helped fuel the everyday stresses that we all endure. The constant self-obsessive bombardment via social media creates a stress of its own as a result of the self-perpetuating need to see what other people are doing and thinking. The most banal postings are shared and viewed for the titillation and amusement of endless faceless contacts. Is it Facebook or Faceless? A study last year showed that the “average adult” spends 135 minutes on social media, up from 126 minutes the year before.
Whilst we are all probably aware of the negative publicity over the last few months around social media and data gathering, one other thing to bear in mind is what effect is it all having on your mental well-being.
There is nothing evil or wrong with social media or the advances of technology, but we do need to be aware of the possible downsides to becoming dependant on our usage of such mediums. High street shops are closing at record numbers as a result of online shopping which has resulted in our town centres being decimated of many previously untouchable High Street brands and names. Are we losing our individuality and sense of community? That is a question for another day.
Overall, I don’t think Hi-tech = Hi-stress, however the fact that everything we do daily can be aided with a smartphone, which is obviously meant to support and speed up or tasks, can mean the things we used to take for granted are now causing stress because they haven’t caught up or can’t be aided with an app.
We can now use contact-less technology to speed up our shopping, apps to transfer money to people in a click and ‘Alexa’ helping us with small tasks. So, once we get to something that seems an inconvenience to us (let’s use buying a train ticket as an example) i.e. meaning that we must queue and wait, this can lead to a stress that maybe a few years we wouldn’t have expected.
Everything is so on hand these days, and even pre-millennials who were used to not having technology to aid daily tasks are now getting used to everything being ‘a click away’.
Another bug bear of mine is “social media influencers”. They portray this life of unattainable beauty for everyone and that to be a success in life, we must have the fanciest watch or fastest car, or sometimes the most expensive make up. I’m probably showing my age, but I remember being a kid and going to play in the woods and building dens. Nowadays it’s all about fashion and having to own the latest gear. I know kids that are struggling at school, and to an extent being bullied, because their parents can’t afford to supply them with designer hoodies or a pair of £150 Nike trainers. This is partly down to this social influence from people online giving the impression that everyone can afford these things and that you’re “not cool” if you can’t.
I think Hi-Tech in the rights hands can help us to be stress free, for example; voice command for people with sight difficulties. The main aim of this modern tech is to make our lives stress-free and to aid developments in the world, be that medical or otherwise. However, I think when we get overloaded by it, that’s when we feel the pressure.nd names. Are we losing our individuality and sense of community? That is a question for another day.
As a working mum of two, I couldn’t live without my smart phone – my calendar, emails, notes etc. Not to mention my reminders which are constantly going off to remind me about non-uniform days, packed lunch days, bring-a-box to school day, reminding me to send that email or to do that urgent task the next day at work. I find that I cannot remember anything nowadays – I even forgot my daughter’s birthday cake for her party at the weekend (I had bought it, but it was at home in the fridge).
Technology helps me organise my life, to the extent that mine and my husband’s phones are now linked to our new fridge – which means I can see on our fridge what my husband’s plans are for the week, so I can organise my plans around his and vice versa. I can now even see the inside of fridge on my phone (in case I need to see if we need milk for breakfast tomorrow before I drive past the supermarket on my way home from work)!
I think we now have so many demands on us, whether that is work, home or family life, that we need technology to be able to manage those demands and have any type of organised life. If I didn’t have my phone to help me I would definitely be much more stressed and would no doubt end up forgetting about more than just a birthday cake.
Technology is the necessary evil for the demanding world we have created for ourselves.
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