Solution Research Group recently released a report entitled “Age Of Disconnect Anxiety
And Four Reasons Why It’s Difficult to Stay Off the Grid“. The National Post had an article on it on Sunday and the CBC show, Here and Now, covered it yesterday afternoon.
Disconnect Anxiety “refers to various feelings of disorientation and nervousness experienced when a person is deprived of Internet or wireless access for a period of time.” This report found that 59% of internet users experience this type of anxiety when away from internet and mobile devices, they are disconnected. This was 26% who feel elevated and 33% who feel occasional anxiety.
I’d recommend that everyone read the summary. Its an interesting evaluation of why people feel that way they do when they are away from their computers. I want to share my ideas about why people feel this way, and how to avoid anxiety.
People feel anxious because they feel separated from all their friends, they are worried that they are going to miss something important, like a promotion, or they will be unable to respond to an emergency. Is this a natural reaction? I don’t think so, its the 21st century version of keeping up with the Jones. If we perceive that someone else is more tuned in then us, then we will go the next step. The logical conclusion is disconnect anxiety. I do not think it needs to be this way though. Step back and really look at why you use the internet, if you do I think it will be easier to be away from it.
People who rely on social media, IMs and email for all their interaction as opposed to using it to complement their other communication will suffer from disconnect anxiety. The solution to disconnect anxiety is to make sure you are not relying on the internet for all communication.
I love the internet, don’t get me wrong, but I make sure that I take a break from it. I go out and I meet with friends who aren’t as “plugged in” as I am. That way our conversations are about other topics. All this means when I’m back online I enjoy it more and I don’t get burned out by it.
Disconnect Anxiety is real, but so is Burn Out. Everything in moderation.