Educational and Practical: A review posted to Amazon.com

Remember the simple life, before technology? That was a long, long time ago. Technology, in various forms, has been in our lives for many years. More recently, however, technology has combined with an increased velocity in the pace of our lives, causing considerable stress: technostress.

Who better to write about this phenomenon than a technology consultant and a psychologist-turned-researcher? What a team for the topic! The integration of their work was obvious and appropriate throughout the book. Weil and Rosen explain in understandable phrasing the origins of our technostress at work, at home, at play and in society overall. But, they don't stop there. The authors also explain in careful steps what to do to control technostress to lead more comfortable, yet productive, lives.

Weil and Rosen help us understand that 80-90 percent of us are not embracing all this technology as rapidly as we all think we (everyone else) are. "Because technology is being thrust upon them at a pace and volume greater than they desire, this vast majority of the populace is also experiencing technostress."

It is easy to see how technology has taken over our lives, the authors observe, as they note that technological intrusion has come from more than the ubiquitous computer. While addressing e-mail issues, they also acknowledge the impact of the microwave, television, the VCR, hand-held poker games, calculators, electronic fish-finders, and automated doggie door openers that respond to a signal from the dog's collar.

Boundaries become critically important in this technology-charged environment. We long for the "good old days" when work stopped at a predetermined hour and we were able to move into our personal and family lives. Now technology has allowed, even encouraged, intrusions into all aspects of our lives-from the other aspects. Pagers chirp interruptions from work during family time; family phone calls or e-mails find us during our work time. The authors remind us that "people have a clear need for their role boundaries to be respected if they are to maneuver successfully through their complex lives." Then, they provide their readers with advice and counsel about how to make that happen. We need to reclaim our space to reduce our technostress.

I'm writing this review on a cross-country airplane trip-conscious that I'm using technology (my
laptop computer) to exercise my efficiency. Yet, at the same time, I'm enjoying the serenity of freedom from ringing telephones, insistent pages, unwanted noise (I don't have to use the headphones), and the siren song of e-mail. I'm in control!

We have become technodependent. "We [even] invade our own space by making check-in calls to
our equipment. We don't feel safe without electronic connection-even though the process is disruptive and can be irritating." We send messages, then wait for return messages. If we don't get prompt responses from voicemail or e-mail messages, we become anxious . . . even paranoid. Are we being ignored? Did the message get through? Is the recipient all right? Angry with us? And here comes the psychological teaching-"we are missing the two main ingredients for successful communication: connection between two people and exchange of accurate information." We don't get closure and that causes technostress.

The demands of unmanaged technology-the technology that manages us-can easily surround us 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. There's no relief, no opportunity to get needed "downtime. "Our nervous systems are perpetually excited. It's like being in a constant state of red alert. Humans need
downtime, internal peacefulness, and uninterrupted sleep. The body needs to heal, rejuvenate, and keep its immune systems operational in order to fend off illness. Without these things, people become sick, cranky, depressed, anxious, distracted, and technostressed. This said, the authors again remind us that we control our lives-we control technology and its impact on is.

The authors also raise the issue of privacy, now a much greater concern in our lives. E-mail, cellular phone conversations, our buying patterns can all be monitored without our knowledge-are we ever safe? We can reduce our technostress. As the authors counsel, "Empowered by knowledge, we can make choices." This book is full of helpful and practical knowledge. It made a difference for me, and it can make a difference for you.

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