Virtual Anxiety and Tech Addiction

Defying all the forecasts and expectations, Gordon Moore's law about the capacity and speed of microprocessors has been increasing for over three decades now. Devices have become smaller and the explosive growth of mobile technology has resulted in hundreds of thousands of apps, tools, and games. We are witnessing a cultural shift of tectonic proportions - anyone who is not adept at using the technology is likely to be ignored if not shunned by peers, friends, and society at large. How does this augur for the future?

The National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences, a premier institute located in India, has identified a new mental disorder - virtual anxiety. In a paper to be published soon in a prestigious medical journal, specialists at the Institute have defined virtual anxiety as a state arising out of outright rejection, or even the mere act of receiving more "dislikes" than "likes" on social media. Going a step further, an alarming discovery is affected persons getting into more serious conditions such as depression, leading to disastrous consequences, when one's presence on social networks does not yield positive results as perceived by the participants.

Nearer home, the National Institute of Health has officially classified "Gaming Addiction" as a condition requiring medical intervention. Some cognitive scientists broad base this into "Technology Addiction." Answers to a few simple questions like, "Do you sleep with your mobile device within reach?" and "Do you look for messages first thing in the morning?" can yield insights into whether one is already or is on the way to becoming a technology addict.

Change is inevitable. It is widely accepted that in the next decade or so, a significant part of our "transactions" including those that are work-related would be carried out on hand-held devices. With advances in areas such as Near Field Computing (NFC) and Information Centric Networks (ICNs), the computer as we know it today may become obsolete except for a few highly specialized applications. Even as you read this, at least one city in the world has already reached a stage where you can get most things done with a mobile device.

How will we handle the disruption that is bound to emanate from these changes? One can only hope that humanity will make wise choices.


  1. With concerns of virtual disorders and technology additions I fear society is headed down a slippery slope that we cannot imagine the outcome.


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