Regaining Control over Information Technology

January 2006
by Reid Goldsborough

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It’s unavoidable. Living in
post-industrial 21st-century society means being surrounded by information
technology. It’s there in our offices, in our cars, and in our homes. It’s even
in the toys that belong to our children, who no doubt will be far better at
dealing with it than we are.

 

Fully one third of us don’t deal
with it well, according to research by Larry Rosen, psychology professor,
author, and pundit. Rosen is the Paul Revere of the Information Age, warning us
about the principal downside of silicon and software, which you or I just might
experience, sooner or later. In a word, he says, it’s “technostress.”

 

The relentless march of technology
can overwhelm anyone, Rosen says. I’ve personally seen people weaned on DOS
batch files throw up their hands in the face of incessant hardware and software
upgrades and stick with comfortable technology that’s as long in the tooth as
it is short on helping them be most productive. Others have taken the
counterrevolutionary step of actually returning to such simpler machines as
typewriters.

 

These neo-Luddites may represent
the most extreme reaction to technostress, but if we’re smart about it, they’ll
remind us to try to keep the demands of the future in balance with the need for
some degree of stability and familiarity.

 

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