Dr. Gregory Jantz

Technology Creates a Hunger for Nonstop Activity

August 10, 2019

A big reason why human beings are drawn to technology is that it stimulates and activates our brains in a way few other things can. The riveting visual imagery, the fast-paced movement of flickering screens, the commotion and constant motion, and the cacophony of noises all get our brain synapses firing at a rapid pace. Overuse of technology often creates a need for more and more stimulation to keep our brains and emotions satisfied. And so we up the ante, seeking additional time with technology and greater intensity from our electronic interactions.

All of this has an often overlooked consequence: a sense of discomfort and restlessness with solitude, stillness, and silence. As a society, we have largely lost appreciation for quietness and introspection. It is in moments of tranquility that we allow our imaginations the freedom to conceive new ideas. It is in moments of contemplation that we listen for spiritual guidance. It is in moments of unhurried reflection that we come to understand who we are as unique individuals.

Technology frequently creates in us a “need for speed,” a hunger for nonstop activity and never-ending action. When this occurs, we forfeit the opportunity to grow and to help others grow. I agree with the words of renowned researcher and author Michael Gurian: “As our lives speed up more and more, so do our children’s. We forget and thus they forget that there is nothing more important than the present moment. We forget and thus they forget to relax, to find spiritual solitude, to let go of the past, to quiet ambition, to fully enjoy the eating of a strawberry, the scent of a rose, the touch of a hand on a cheek.” [1]

It’s long been recognized that “keeping up with the Joneses” is a big part of what keeps us all running the “rat race.” Those may be outdated phrases these days, but the condition of unhealthy envy they describe is alive and well. It’s admittedly difficult to avoid noticing the outward appearances of your neighbor’s life—job, car, home, overachieving kids, and adventurous vacations—and comparing them to your own, concluding your neighbor must be better off and happier than you. This comparison game is rigged from the start. Media marketers work overtime to be sure you feel your life is lacking so they can sell you what’s missing.

Before the Internet, however, those we compared ourselves to were mostly flesh-and-blood people. They lived down the street or worked down the hall. It was at least possible to see them at their worst as well as at their best. And they numbered in the dozens at the very most.

Now we compare ourselves to thousands, if not millions, of virtual neighbors. And we see only what they allow us to see—photos of their pets, happy dinners with friends, the view from an exotic beach, kids getting academic awards, crossing the finish line at the Boston Marathon. Most of this is posted by people who are “friends” in name only. It’s a giant understatement to say that all this adds up to a managed and distorted view of who people really are and how they actually live. And that’s before we account for perceptions created by advertisers that can be grossly manipulative, misleading, or outright false.

Those suffering from depression are already poised to believe that their lives don’t measure up to the lives of others. The Internet provides persuasive “evidence” they’re right about that.

If you are struggling with depression, The Center • A Place of HOPE is here to help. Our team is skilled at navigating these sensitive issues surrounding fear, depression, stress and anxiety. For more information, fill out this form or call 1-888-747-5592 to speak confidentially with a specialist today.

[1] Michael Gurian, The Wonder of Boys: What Parents, Mentors and Educators Can Do to Shape Boys into Exceptional Men (New York: Penguin, 2006), 215.