How easy is it these days to sit down in front of a computer and get lost in the vast world of the Internet. Before you know it, a few hours have passed by and you are stuck wondering what exactly it is that you have gotten from your most recent “Internet hit. ” You realize that you haven’t obtained anything from this visit and that the only reason you sat down in the first place is because you wanted to check the score of your favorite team’s game that day. You become angry or embarrassed with the fact that you just wasted so much time and got nothing out of it.
Ultimately, you become depressed. You know that this isn’t the first time this has happened to you. There have been many occasions where you just felt the need to sit down on your computer and “explore” the Internet, and you hate every time you do it because you feel like you are simply wasting your time. If this example relates to you in any way, you may be suffering from New Economy Depression Syndrome, or NEDS. There are an estimated 8 million people in the United States that suffer from NEDS.
NEDS is a disease that is caused by information overload and frequent interruptions, such as cell phones or instant messages. When these interruptions and overloads combine to reduce the quality of your relationships with yourself and others, it becomes NEDS. “The victim feels a sense of being overwhelmed, helpless, and ultimately alone… This is best understood in a workplace scenario as carpel tunnel of the mind” (T+D, December 2003). Tim Sanders is the leading expert on this recently-discovered disease. Sanders is an Internet executive and author of the New York Times Bestseller Love is the Killer App.
Tim’s belief is that technology is a wonderful thing and will never go away, but if used carelessly the isolation caused by this technology can become particularly devastating. Some of the symptoms of NEDS are everyday feelings that our society has grown used to. “Symptoms of NEDS include anxiety, exhaustion, burn-out, difficulty making decisions, irritability, sadness, and sleep disturbances” (www. gotneds. com). Sanders believes the main catalyst for all of these symptoms is information overload.
He gives an example of a doctor with a clear case of NEDS: “…her hospital changed to computer-based records. That sounded great on paper, but now instead of talking to a specialist whenever she had a question, she needed o sift through hundreds of pages of written materials–far more than she could possibly digest. She lost her relationships, her sense of creativity and slammed into information overload. The result was clinical depression” (www. gotneds. com). With the focus of technology being to create or deliver something as quickly as possible, most companies will be looking to adopt a system such as the one this woman’s hospital began using.
This means there will be an increase in the amount of people who develop these symptoms unless something is done to help educate these people. Sanders believes the best way to help prevent NEDS is to simply be conscious about it. If you begin to have any of the symptoms that are listed earlier, stop and think about what you are doing and how you are doing it. Are you accidentally isolating yourself from everybody else while you check your email? Do you spend your breaks simply sitting in your chair at work surfing the web instead of getting up and having a conversation with a fellow employee?
Sanders believes that other people will be able to unconsciously help you defeat the disease. “Don’t send an instant message 15 feet. Get up! Walk 15 feet. Say it to someone’s face. They will transfer psychological energy to you face-to-face” (Greenlee, 2003). This psychological energy will help abolish the negative energy in your body being created by your isolation from everyone else. Although it isn’t a common disease yet, NEDS is becoming more and more contagious as technology continues to improve.
We are constantly being presented with more and more reasons to “lose ourselves” in front of a computer. It only takes a second to accidentally stumble onto an addictive website that can consume you for hours every day. Some of these websites are in the forms of online games for the younger generation, while the older generation can get wrapped up surfing the news sites or playing card games. In my opinion, NEDS will become a common disease in the next few years, a disease that is easily fixable but incredibly hard to accept.