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Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Technology And Human Impatience - Excuse, Or Reality?

You might be familiar with the image of a man about to destroy his computer with a hammer. And it's true that our impatience with technology stretches back beyond computers to faulty tube television sets and their non-working remote controls.  Today's world is faster than ever, thanks to technology. But does this mean that we are more impatient than ever as a result?

Maybe you've always hated waiting for online videos to load. Or, it could be that your personality is fragmenting. Wait, what? Many theories and studies like this are being offered with the goal of shedding some light on how technology is affecting us and possibly even altering us on a psychological level.

External Vs. Internal

One school of thought points to the nature of technology and impatience. And that school of thought, or rather patience, is located in New York and called the Community Meditation Center. One of its teachers, Allan Lokos, seems to be of the opinion that while technology, an external element has given us more potential for impatience, which is an internal element, that we shouldn't blame technology if we become frustrated.

Lokos's take is that impatience has always been an emotion that humans have experienced, and that if technology is making us impatient, it's because we're allowing it to. Remembering that technology is a valuable tool that can enhance our lives, as opposed to allowing it to become our lives, is an important component of overcoming any impatience we experience when we use it, he says.

Psychologically Speaking

The psychological side of this debate is equally interesting. Many scientists believe that technology does, in fact, cause us to be more impatient. In fact, to this camp, it appears that life is imitating technology. Think of that group of friends in your local café sitting at the same table, but with their faces buried in their devices.

It's true that 'faster' is the word of today's world, with instant and fingertip access available for everything we want, from music to video to chat. And for those whose technology has become an integral part of their lives, any interruption to the flow can cause anxiety and impatience. And this, some psychologists say, is not healthy at all.

The Causal Culprit

Another possible source of evidence may be found with research into online video streaming, the results of which were intriguing. A University of Massachusetts study was able to prove that the quality of a video stream does have a measurable effect on the patience of the viewer. The comprehensive experiment revealed that even in the first few seconds of start up, that if a video hasn't loaded, the viewer will begin the abandoning process. Those who watched a frequently-freezing video will watch less of that video.

And the results of this study went beyond impatience. Video viewers who had to deal with slow or intermittent video not only abandoned it sooner, but were far less likely to return to where the undesirable experience was had.

Double-Edged Sword

What's interesting about the technology vs. patience conundrum is that once technology has become a part of daily life, quitting cold turkey can have just as many effects on our ability to connect with society and think logically as immersing ourselves in technology can, a phenomenon more associated with addiction than technology in the past.

Indeed, many other studies have pointed to how people use technology; not only has it become a terrific tool for business, but it can also be there in times of emotional need or when some kind of escape is sought, which is most certainly a reason why it can be so difficult to cut back on usage.
Featured images:
  •  License: Royalty Free or iStock source: http://www.sxc.hu/profile/catalin82
Guest author Linda Gregory writes on a variety of topics, particularly related to technology.  She is a frequent contributor at http://www.internetprovidersphiladelphia.com/, a site that reviews internet providers in the neighborhoods surrounding Philadelphia.

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