Technology has been an integral part of our lives for years now, but what happens when technology starts to make doing work even more difficult.
Patience is waning in all aspects of human interaction; impatience is being felt throughout the whole of society. Society today—today being defined as the late 1980s to the present—has undergone a rapid evolution in information collection, manipulation, storage, and presentation. Life has been transformed into an environment where information is readily available on demand.
As technology has become the focal point for most of the developed world, costs for said technology have decreased rapidly—making them more readily available for people of all ages. As businesses and humans have started to rely more heavily on technology, our personal expectations have been raised across the board in every aspect of our lives. It is this fundamental change in expectation where I identified the topic for my dissertation (in 2001) long before it became a common human problem: Technology Induced Attention Deficit Disorder (TIADD).
When I argued my dissertation about TIADD, I was designing and implementing ERP systems and working with companies to manage the organizational change being caused by technology’s effect on humans. Internet access rates were increasing, and you could get a 128k baud rate at home and 1,544k baud rate at work.
From 2001 to now, we have seen data speeds increase more than fiftyfold. We have also expanded the influence of technology from the workplace, to home, to our back pocket. This transformation in data delivery has created the constant need for immediate gratification of knowledge; we need answers this instant. This need for immediate gratification has a negative effect on human relationships in all aspects of human interaction: from quality to quantity.
TIADD is a new foundation for inefficiency and vulnerability. Entire generations are being trained to rely solely on technology to collect, analyze, process, and distribute information. This is not to say that all technology is inefficient, or even that all people are inefficient at using technology; however, the inefficiencies I am discussing are ones that are created through a lack of planning and understanding of business’s processes and the technologies themselves.
Individuals may become vulnerable when technologies are implemented into new systems with inefficiencies. People are psychologically affected by some of the negative impacts of technology. For one, when technology goes astray (as technology can do sometimes because it is not perfect) it places an unnecessary weight of stress on the individual whose job is to fix that technologies inefficiency. This weight stems from the need for immediate gratification in humans demanding technology to work right at that moment, all the time, one-hundred percent of the time.
TIADD is a societal problem and is caused by the introduction and reliance of technology. By this, I mean that individuals who have been diagnosed with ADD or ADHD are not any more susceptible to being succumbed by TIADD than someone who has not been diagnosed with ADD or ADHD. Technology may cause some of their diagnosis to manifest, however I wouldn’t consider them more susceptible than the next person. I do not intend to imply that TIADD is physiological or biological in nature, like ADD or ADHD; however, I do believe that through the evolution of technology and people together, it has a possibility to become a physiological issue.
The sociological effects of TIADD are abundantly clear, to everyone. Society has become reliant on technology to streamline every facet of our lives. This change in the very fabric of business and life has conditioned people to expect results in less time. If—and often it does—technology fails to meet individual, group, or company expectations, negative effects can and will occur. Impatience, distraction, impulsivity, hypersensitivity, lack of development, and uneasiness are just a few of the issues that can occur when technology fails human standards.
As we have evolved with technology, our expectations for performance and our ability to deal with human emotion have caused both personal and business process failures. People have been programmed to rely on technology to solve all their problems and to solve them quickly. People hold back on offering patience or support to others as technology has “cut out the middle man,” per se, and offered faster solutions. These expectations and a general lack of basic human qualities that we once cherished in the workforce can now be defined as TIADD.
What is the solution to this? Exposing the areas in your life where technology creates feelings of anxiety, distraction, or impatience is a good start. Ensure communication with your team is clear, and identify situations where you can engage in more human interaction to slow down your business’ processes.
Dr. Brian Smith is the author of the book Individual Advantages: Find the “I” in Team (CLICK HERE to get your copy). He holds a PhD in organizational psychology, a master’s degree in management information systems, a bachelor’s degree in accounting, and is a certified Six Sigma Master Black Belt Consultant. His company, IA Business Advisors has helped over eighteen thousand clients since 1996.
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