If you’ve never heard of technophobia, the following statements might you give a clue. If you or anyone you know says things like this, read on :
“My computer is the bane of my existence.”
“I’d like to throw the darn thing out the window.”
“I don’t know a computer from a piece of cardboard.”
“I get panic stricken when something doesn’t work right.”
“If my grandkids want to communicate with me, they can just pick up the phone.”
What is Technophobia?
Did you know that technophobia is a disorder that can actually cause physical symptoms? While most of us probably suffer from this to some degree, we often manage by gradually picking up new skills or just sticking with the technologies we’re comfortable with. But for some people, the phobia is quite crippling and actually limits their ability to function in day-to-day life.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines technophobia as the “fear or dislike of advanced technology or complex devices and especially computers.” Advanced Technology can refer to using a computer or tablet, getting on the Internet, using a Smartphone, or using any other recent technologies.
Some of the physical symptoms of the disorder including, rapid heartbeat, trembling, shortness of breath, or feelings of dread or panic. Other symptoms can be:
- Constantly thinking about technology
- A reluctance to use technical devices and automated processes
- Preferring to do things “the old way.”
- Criticizing technological changes and updated systems
- Saying things such as, “I have made it this far without technology. Why do I need it now?”
What Causes Technophobia and Why Does it Matter?
Technophobes often get stuck a basic contradiction of technology: while it’s supposed to simplify our lives, the effort of mastering it doesn’t seem to make it worthwhile. In addition to this, using technologies often involves a number of steps. The user may take the first few steps but then always gets stuck at some point, which makes it seem as though it’s not worth the effort. Somewhere along the line the users may become panic stricken or overwhelmed, which may cause them to simply give up.
Technophobia is sometimes related to a long-standing anxiety about science or math. Folks who are uncomfortable with these subjects may view technical devices as an extension of those dreaded topics and thus feel intimidated by the prospect of using them.
Another problem is that the advances and changes in technology take place at such a fast pace that people get discouraged at the prospect of trying to stay current.
One of the most common complaints I hear is from people who have made an effort to learn a new technology. But the people who try to help them – store clerks or maybe their grandkids – go through the steps so fast that the user isn’t able to practice or comprehend the steps.
Another one is that devices don’t come with a manual. This leaves the buyer feeling lost and confused and wishing they had never bought the device.
But when they avoid using new technologies they end up cutting themselves off from friends and family and the activities of daily life.
Overcoming the Fear of Technology
Here are some steps for overcoming technophobia:
1) Realize that many of us suffer from it in varying degrees and that it is not a shortcoming; it is just another life skill to work on.
2) Make a commitment to rise above it. Learning any new skill requires a period of feeling awkward and inept, but if a person who commits to staying with it can gradually master the skills to become more confident.
3) Think of the learning process as an adventure. Start with something basic and enjoyable, such as playing solitaire, then gradually try other gadgets and more advanced tasks.
4) Find out how you learn best – is it through videos, one-on-one instruction, your grandkids, private tutors? You might find that the information sticks best if you use a combination of these methods.
5) Remember that adopting technology is like learning to walk. First you master crawling, then you take a few wobbly steps, and before you know it you’re running a marathon!
6) Use repetition. If you’re learning to play tennis, you practice the ground stroke thousands of times before you are able to master it.
7) Remember that learning any new discipline is a matter of building a knowledge base and making neuronal connections in your brain.
8) Read, study, learn. Here are a couple of articles to start with:
Did you know that when people were afraid of the printing press when it was introduced? They feared having their words make permanent! In turn, there was a lot of skepticism about cameras and televions. Resistance to new technology is a natural part of our evolution as humans.
It’s clear now that the digital revolution is here to stay, and you might as well jump on the train and enjoy the ride!