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Too Much Tech Diminishes Work Relationships? 195

Posted by michael
from the too-much-salt-spoils-the-soup dept.
Lansdowne writes "The Seattle Times has an article today on Tim Sanders, a Yahoo exec who claims too much technology may be bad for your health. According to Sanders, small groups of engineers who went to completely electronic communication in their workgroups became 'very lonely, depressed, negative, anti-social, brilliant people.'"
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Too Much Tech Diminishes Work Relationships?

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  • uhh (Score:5, Funny)

    by TapTapTheChisler (691570) on Saturday August 09, 2003 @01:48PM (#6655380)
    'very lonely, depressed, negative, anti-social, brilliant people.' in other words, nothing changed
    • Re:uhh (Score:5, Insightful)

      by m_chan (95943) on Saturday August 09, 2003 @02:04PM (#6655458) Homepage
      Well, they _are_ in engineering. If they were self-actualized, happy, positive, gregarious, blustering idiots they would be in marketing.
      • Re:uhh (Score:5, Funny)

        by red floyd (220712) on Saturday August 09, 2003 @02:46PM (#6655629)
        No, they're lonely, depressed, negative because they had to deal with marketing!
      • Re:uhh (Score:5, Insightful)

        by bluesangria (140909) on Saturday August 09, 2003 @03:52PM (#6655947)
        I disagree. That's a typical and often incorrect stereotype. Being analytical and logical has nothing to do with being anti-social. As human beings, we ALL need some kind of human contact to keep us content. An extrovert may desire human contact more often than an introvert, but both still require some.

        Further, isolating yourself from people will actually make you are *worse* IT employee or engineer. Why? Because you forget how to put yourself in other people's shoes. By not doing that, you end up designing tools, devices, or software that are counter-intuitive and difficult for people to use. Raise your hand if you've never asked yourself "WHY did they design this gizmo/software this way? It's stupid!"

        I'm currently struggling with similar burn-out at work as mentioned in the article. Everyone is so in love with the idea of technology, they've lost sight of whether or not adopting a new technology would actually be beneficial in the longterm. They believe that everything would be "so much better" if it ran on computers, and that's just not the case. I spend hours taking care of servers, networks, software, etc. that I forget why I'm even doing this in the first place and stop caring about the users. After all, I never see any of them.

        just my $.02 blue

  • ...I learned from Maxis' The Sims. If your or your Sim's social bar drops too low, bad things happen.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 09, 2003 @01:51PM (#6655393)
    My computer talks to me...
    Isn't that right sweetie?
  • by ethelred (587527) on Saturday August 09, 2003 @01:53PM (#6655405)
    Perhaps the "very lonely, depressed, negative, anti-social, brilliant people" are simply attracted to technology, and not necessary a product of it...?
    • by NetworkDweebs (621769) on Saturday August 09, 2003 @02:01PM (#6655440)
      I agree, too many people out there who are technology whores, and most of their technology never really accomplishes anything useful for them. That is the reason I've given away about 6 PDA's, my talking billy mouth bass, and plenty of stuff from ThinkGeek. I'm much more productive with just my laptop and a wireless connection than an arsenal of useless gear to babysit.

      Call me old fashioned, but I still thrive on human interaction regardless of how obsolete it may be these days. Really, given if we all had the money, I'm willing to bet there are more people like me who would get rid of all of their technology and live a more simple, fulfilling life.
      • I'm in the same boat. I only use my laptop and I'm one of the best workers at my company. I also never send email when I can just pick up a phone or walk over to the person and talk to them. No PDA, no instant messaging, no cruft whatsoever.

        Tech may increase efficiency, but if it makes a person crazy that hurts the bottom line a lot more.

        <cliche>If you acquire to much stuff, your stuff ends up owning you. I can fit my most important possessions in two suitcases.</cliche>
        • by Bluetrust25 (647829) on Saturday August 09, 2003 @03:39PM (#6655885)
          Your post reminds me a little of one of my clients who always calls with huge lists of changes instead of just laying them out in email as bullet points and sending them over.

          "Okay, here's the next one, are you ready? Okay. Bold and italicise the words 'previously used' on paragraph two of question three."

          Drives me absolutely batty. I get the impression that he read on the MSN home page ten tips to increase his career and tip #8 was something like, "Call, don't email. A personal touch is always appreciated..."

          Bah. Just email it to me and I'll take care of it at my earliest convenience, don't call, interrupt me from what I'm doing, and make me transcribe your directions. Not all of us enjoy being interrupted from our work to take notes.

          I really like email. It makes my business a lot easier. I just go down the list, taking care of email after email from clients. When I'm done, I can stretch and do something different. Calls interrupt that natural checklist-like flow by forcing me to break off what I'm doing and take care of their issues first. In email I can even be polite and cordial even when I don't feel like it!

          You do use email when it's appropriate, right?

          The worst ever is when someone calls AND emails. "Hi, I just sent you an email containing a list of changes!"

          (You fucking loser!) "Sure. I'll be looking for that shortly. Thanks!"

          (click)
          • by Population (687281) on Saturday August 09, 2003 @06:49PM (#6656724)
            If I want you to drop everything and service me, I am superior.

            If I am talking and you are writing, I am superior. Think old time boss and secretary. Boss talks, secretary takes dictation.

            Dominance games are usually the worst means of communicating anything other than who is dominant.

            Suppose a person who has an emotional need
            to establish dominance over others also likes tech toys? There are lots of these people. They buy the latest toy just because it is the latest toy. They have an emotional need to have something before other people have it.

            But those toys don't give them the dominance feedback that they also need. They play with their toys and the discover there is something missing that the toys aren't providing.

            Get therapy. Find out why you want the newest toys. Find out why using them makes you feel "isolated" and "alone".

            I'll send email to someone sitting right next to me. But only if I think he's busy on a project and wouldn't like to be interrupted or if I can more clearly express myself in an email (or to cover my ass by having a digital record).

            This isn't about technology. This is about people interacting with other people.
        • E-Mail CYA (Score:2, Informative)

          by darkmeridian (119044)
          I've prefer e-mail for communication in work because it affords me the opportunity to think twice or even thrice before "saying" anything. Keeps me out of trouble. Also, co-workers can't deny receiving data from me if I have the sent mail receipt and an exact transcript of what I sent and when I sent it.
        • I also never send email when I can just pick up a phone or walk over to the person and talk to them. No PDA, no instant messaging, no cruft whatsoever.

          I agree that IM is stupid. However, e-mail is better than a phone call, due to it being a running transcript of the conversation. I find it frustrating to work with people who will talk only over the phone, as many decisions get lost to memory with no text to back them up. If phone conversations are then follow-up with person-to-person discussion with a
      • >Call me old fashioned, but I still thrive on human interaction regardless of how obsolete it may be these days.

        Unfortunately for you and me, human interaction is a necessity, especially in a working environment. In fact, the most successful people in the world KNOW this...
      • most of their technology never really accomplishes anything useful for them.

        I (and my friends) use technology a lot to arrange physical meetings etc. Mobiles, landlines, text messaging (SMS), instant messaging, e-mails and so on. Discussing one night out might cross across all of these mediums in planning etc. Technology is not all bad!!

        I'm willing to bet there are more people like me who would get rid of all of their technology and live a more simple, fulfilling life.

        Hell yeah. Half the people are k

    • by msgmonkey (599753) on Saturday August 09, 2003 @02:05PM (#6655461)
      You could attach "very lonely, depressed, negative, anti-social, brilliant people" to some of the most talented people in history. I dont think it's restricted to tech.

      It could be maybe that IT allows people who may not be comfortable talking face to face due to lack of social interaction to communicate with other people more easily.
      • Or then again perhaps it[IT] allows people who may not be comfortable talking face to face the opportunity to avoid face to face contact precisely when it is most needed.

        I would find it very easy in my job to communicate entirely by email and IM, but I've found that a kind of "chinese whisper" effect takes hold and more uncertainty is introduced than would be the case in a face to face conversation. So I force myself to get out of my chair. Apparently there are good ergonomic side-effects to this too...

    • Perhaps the "very lonely, depressed, negative, anti-social, brilliant people" are simply attracted to technology, and not necessary a product of it...?

      I'm inclined to agree, but I also see the technology as exacerbating the problem. From the article:

      "...They took nerd and created monster or troll..."

      This is where I see the downward spiral come into play. The obscured moral of the story is that people need to realize the most important under-utilized feature that technology has to offer is the off button.

    • well it's definitely a correlation, definitely NOT a cause and effect - usually the media doesn't know the difference. That said I know a lot of people who were once perfectly normal (not exactly "brilliant") who have basically forsaken normal socializing for internet surfing/chatting/gameplay. It's the whole "game addiction" thing in another sense. Some people are just more prone to it than others. And out of those people, some can keep a handle on it with enough self control.
    • I could see anti-social people being attracted to tech, but I'd think the loneliness, depression and negativity are more likely a product.

      In my job, I can either go in to my (fairly social) office, or work at home (shuttered away with just a computer), pretty much at my option. At the office, people walked in every 5 minutes with some question or other. I couldn't get anything done. So I took to working from home almost all the time, and people would e-mail me questions (but not with nearly the frequenc
  • by cliffy2000 (185461) on Saturday August 09, 2003 @01:54PM (#6655409) Journal
    I don't think that being "very lonely, depressed, negative, anti-social, brilliant people" is caused by the electronics. We're just drawn to the stuff BECAUSE we're very lonely, depressed, negative, anti-social, brilliant people.
    But hey, what do I know, I'm just a very lonely, depressed, negative, anti-social, brilliant Engineering student.
    • Take a look at anti-social types like the unabomber, who was anti-technology and lived out in the woods. Many people who choose to withdraw from society, run off into the woods and live hermit like. Now, would someone say, "the woods" is the reason why they are anti social and depressed? Maybe. But it makes more sense to say, these people were anti social to begin with and choose to express it in this way. Same thing with computers.
  • by JeffTL (667728) on Saturday August 09, 2003 @01:54PM (#6655413)
    First off, the experiment involves the fast reduction of quantity of several social relationships. Socialization is habit-forming. You could get the same effect from taking a small group of pot smokers and switching them to tobacco. Second off, the conclusion is fallacious. The problem supposedly demonstrated is not so much too much technology as too little socialization, though for my money, the problem is the sudden removal of habit-forming face-to-face interpersonal communcication.
    • So you think interpersonal communication is an addiction rather than a basic human need? I somehow doubt that.

      I was out of work for a few months. I still went out to lunch with my former co-workers every now and again, or saw my friends on weekends, but for most of the day I was alone. Believe it or not, I started to lose the ability to talk. (Which really sucks during job interviews.)

      Then after a few months I got a job where I just sat in a cube and coded all day. I was extremely productive but I counted
    • Second off, the conclusion is fallacious. The problem supposedly demonstrated is not so much too much technology as too little socialization, though for my money, the problem is the sudden removal of habit-forming face-to-face interpersonal communcication.

      Oh, please. Humans, just like the rest of the great apes, are social animals. Face-to-face communication isn't some weird drug; it's been part of our evolution for millions of years. Like sunlight, exercise, or vitamin C, we can do without social relatio
  • by telstar (236404) on Saturday August 09, 2003 @01:57PM (#6655423)
    machines are going to take over the world ... so those anti-social rejects are just laying the groundwork for their future girlfriends...
  • Attitude (Score:5, Funny)

    by Godeke (32895) * on Saturday August 09, 2003 @01:58PM (#6655428)
    I have noticed that as I have done most of my work remote this last year (remote desktop technologies instead of onsite visits, IM and e-mail instead of phone discussions) that I have become a surly bugger.

    It has started to carry into my regular life: people are interruptions not whatever they used to be...

    And here I am posting to slash.
    • Re:Attitude (Score:4, Funny)

      by Coelacanth (323321) on Saturday August 09, 2003 @02:24PM (#6655548)
      It has started to carry into my regular life: people are interruptions not whatever they used to be...
      ...obstacles, just asking to be killed and fed to rabid pigs?

      Maybe your attitude is improving.
      • Re:Attitude (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Kierthos (225954)
        Oh, you've worked in tech support?

        Let's face it. Technology lets us be freer with our communication. Nothing lets us lie so much as a chat-room. Nothing lets us say what we feel to people across the country or around the world with as little fear of recrimination as IRC. The anti-social behavior could be creeping in when these same people realize that have to cover what has become their "normal" conversation with the pureed bullshit that passes for civil conversation these days.

        No, I'm not saying that we
      • Where are rabid carnivous pigs when you need them? (If only they could fly too...)
  • Maybe some people dont want to have to interact socially, and messaging your colleague from five feet away certainly severs all social ties. And email is now such an important part of our lives that we use it to exchange information almost as much as we talk face to face. Without email, a good part of the business of any company would immediately be halted due to lack of communication.

    Using instant messaging also a more convenient and faster way to interact, although it will never measure up to a real
  • by Timesprout (579035) on Saturday August 09, 2003 @01:58PM (#6655431)
    to explain why this article is complete nonsense but I'm too depressed, feel the world is against me and I really dont feel like talking to anyone. Plus I just got a new laptop to play with.
  • Limits... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Woxbert (315027) on Saturday August 09, 2003 @02:02PM (#6655442) Homepage
    "He began to have relationship difficulties at work because he used e-mail, at one point, to communicate everything to his employees, be it good or bad."

    This quote from the article makes me wonder whether we're reading too much into it. This is someone who replaced face to face communication with his employees. That's not a problem with technology: that's him being irrespsonsible.

    I think (hope) that we all know there's a time and place for technology. Things like employee appraisals and agreeing big pieces of work should really be done face to face.

    The question that we thought was being answered was whether having more technological gadgets would create problems for people in themselves?

    I'm in the camp who believe that technology actually improves relationships when used appropriately, rather than damages him.

    Friends overseas? It's a shame they're not here, but I can use ICQ to keep in touch with them.

    Feel like a drink? I can call around my friends to see who's around.

    Really want the obnoxious sex-mad guy to come? Just snap a photo/video of the cute girl next to you and he'll be along in a jiffy.

    People can do more, in less time, with more people.

    Everyone wins. Especially the communications companies.
    • by rainwalker (174354) on Saturday August 09, 2003 @02:45PM (#6655622)
      This quote from the article makes me wonder whether we're reading too much into it. This is someone who replaced face to face communication with his employees. That's not a problem with technology: that's him being irrespsonsible.

      FOOL!! Don't you realize that it is impossible for him to be responsible for his own actions?! No one can exert any control over their own lives! We all dance to the music played by forces beyond our control! Have you already forgotten that fast food makes people fat by forcing them to overeat? Personal responsibility is a myth perpetuated by those who want to limit your personal litigation, er, freedom!
      • Hey, I just wrote a book describing the pain I just escaped from and I'd like some of your time to explain it to you because I feel that you just might be living the same pain I was living.

        By the way, I'm also giving a lecture about it.

        Next year, I'll be giving a lecture about the new book I wrote about being on the lecture circuit promoting the last book I wrote and how painful the lecture circuit was.

        The book after that will be about how I found myself addicted to the lecture circuit despite the pain.
  • by SunPin (596554) <slashspam@@@cyberista...com> on Saturday August 09, 2003 @02:03PM (#6655447) Homepage
    This is a textbook example of FUD.

    Adults need to be responsible for their lives. Yeah, sounds obvious but apparently people are still lost on this point.

    Everything has a time and a place. Keep everything in its time and place and keeping your sanity is easy. Get sunshine. Go to the beach. If that's not possible, try a municipal pool.

    Life isn't complicated. People in this article want to make it complicated because at some point along the way, they'll profit.

    If you stay up until sunrise, down gallons of caffeine and live in chat rooms then that's your decision. The consequences might be depression and isolation. Those who don't like it need to change the variables in their life program.

    • Still the question remains: what comes first - depression and isolation, or depending on technology?

      If a person has to depend on chat rooms and instant messengers for relationships, there was probably something wrong already before this. They are not depressed because they drink a lot of coffee and live in chat rooms. They live in chat rooms, because they are depressed if they don't. Feeling depressed and isolated? IRC will help you. Can't handle your real life anymore? There's always an unreal one waiting

  • Here is another link [craigslist.org] describing the same event. Its not quite as negative about the technology, but stronger on the need for a peculiar emotion called love.
  • by truthsearch (249536) on Saturday August 09, 2003 @02:07PM (#6655468) Homepage Journal
    lonely - certainly, since they get less face-to-face contact
    depressed - maybe, especially if they're feeling lonely
    negative - Windows desktops will do that to you, they've done it to me ;)
    anti-social - it helps us be lazy and stay within our small team
    brilliant - makes them brilliant? I doubt that. You're either brilliant or you're not. Modes of communication can't change that.
  • very lonely, depressed, negative, anti-social, brilliant people

    Proof that contact with the masses dumbs you down. ^_^
  • Balance (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Snake_Plisken (666881) on Saturday August 09, 2003 @02:11PM (#6655486)
    I work at a large web hosting company. We got a lot of bright people working for us that most of soceity would see as introverted. We got people locked away in secure rooms for most of their shift, etc - the human part is what makes working there a good thing. We are a very social company in the hallways, meeting areas, etc. Most people (including myself) say that they have very good friends at work, but few outside its walls. To a varying degree, we are a big 400 person family where I work - I think people (ok, myself) need to have the human interaction in order to maintain themselves. Technology roxxors, but there needs to be people to talk to, even if it is anime or what level your 3rd edition Ranger is.
    • Re:Balance (Score:2, Interesting)

      by ishmaelflood (643277)
      Interesting. I resent having friends at work (which I do). In order to do my job to my standards I /have/ to criticise other people's work, and I have to tell them to start all over again, and get their thinking straight.

      I moved out of my old job partly because two of the people I worked with are friends from wayback. In my new job, which I probably got because two of the three people on the management people development commitee are my friends (grin), my informal, actual, job function is to talk to other
  • by Sfing_ter (99478)
    at all, damn users can't leave well enough alone, or me. Stop bothering me, if i want to talk to you i'll remove your email address from my spam filter.
  • Balance (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Squiggle (8721)
    Why is it hard to remember?

    Focusing your life around *anything* for long periods of time such that you exclude everything that used to keep you healthy and happy is not going to be good for you.

  • by segment (695309) <sil @ p o l i t rix.org> on Saturday August 09, 2003 @02:12PM (#6655497) Homepage Journal

    Dubya: "Those techies aren't lonely, they just have no one to talk to, and speak with."
  • by OmniVector (569062) <see [ ]homepage ['my ' in gap]> on Saturday August 09, 2003 @02:15PM (#6655503) Homepage
    I've always been a firm believer that if I wasn't as technologically compotent as I am, I'd probably be a much happier person in general. But you can't unlearn, and I've come to realize that I'd rather be aware of technology than let it overleap me.

  • 'very lonely, depressed, negative, anti-social, brilliant people.'

    In other words, exactly what companies seem to want these days.

  • According to Sanders, small groups of engineers who went to completely electronic communication in their workgroups became 'very lonely, depressed, negative, anti-social, brilliant people.'

    Bah! Humbug...

    E

  • In a related story, they're now claiming that owning Playboy gets you laid and that Blondes really do have more fun!

    They'll be releasing a study soon about how much happier people are who spend their time doing things they like.
  • Near-Miss (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Penguinshit (591885) on Saturday August 09, 2003 @02:23PM (#6655543) Homepage Journal

    You know, when I started my career in IT, I was the happy helpful SysAdmin. I would cheerfully respond to request after request because I loved helping my fellow employees have a positive computing experience.

    I never understood why people always thought SysAdmins were grumpy and belligerent.

    However, now after a decade of thankless shit-catching, I am that grumpy and belligerent SysAdmin who believes that users are a fucking plague of idiots set loose in Biblical proportions upon my otherwise Utopian computer networks.

    Comments such as "your message titled 'Virus Warning - Happy New Year' had the word 'Virus' in it, so I deleted it to be safe, but then I opened the next one that had an attachment called 'Happy New Year'. Now my computer doesn't work right..." (honest-to-God true story) have made me tend to side with the machines while watching such movies as "Terminator" and "Matrix", and to create tools named for the Borg which enforce draconian administration of my networks.

    Are we anti-social because of the machines, or because people are morons?
    • Of course people aren't going to fit into your logical world. People are quantum entities, not Newtonian. They are dictated by the world of probablility and there can never be any certainty.

      You should realize this, get over it, face reality, and adjust to it. After all, that's the most logical thing to do. If you can't adjust to your environment, then look within, not out for the problem.

      • "They are dictated by the world of probablility and there can never be any certainty."

        The one certainty is this: The CEO's secretary is going to be the biggest pain in your ass, support-wise.
    • "who believes that users are a fucking plague of idiots set loose in Biblical proportions upon my otherwise Utopian computer networks."

      Reminds me of Maltilda... when Miss Trunchball said that kids were a plague on a school, and that school would be much nicer without them :)

    • I notice that I feel at ease working with comptuers because I understand it's behavior. I can get it to do what I want when I want it, and yeah, sometimes it crashes or does things I can't control / predict, but I can always reboot and start from scratch. It's a very safe, predictable environment once you spend a lot of time there.

      And I do think if you spend a lot of time in this environment, people begin to seem comparatively, irrational, hard to predict, hard to control, and no, you can't just hit the

  • brilliant! (Score:4, Funny)

    by GromBulk (524814) on Saturday August 09, 2003 @02:31PM (#6655567)
    'very lonely, depressed, negative, anti-social, brilliant people.'"
    Wow, I can become brilliant.
  • by kakos (610660) on Saturday August 09, 2003 @02:32PM (#6655571)
    As many people have already pointed out, there is simply a correlation between technology and unhappy, depressed, anti-social geniuses. This is the easiest mistake a person can make when looking at correlations.

    As any beginning psychology student can (should) tell you is that a correlation does not indicate a cause and effect. So, from this, we see that unhappy, depressed, anti-social geniuses use a lot of technology. We have a strong positive correlation between technology and depressed geniuses. It could be that technology causes it, or it could be that depressed geniuses like technology, or it could just be a coincidence.

    In order figure out which it is, experiments need to be performed. Observation alone cannot figure this out.
  • Nothing Changes (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Gonoff (88518) on Saturday August 09, 2003 @02:32PM (#6655574)
    People have been criticising new technology for a long time.
    For example, about 150 years ago, someone said how young women should not ride bicycles because it made them less attractive, had bad effects on their health & fertility and gave them grumpy looking faces.
    More recently, it was forecast that telephones would cause people to loose touch with their friends and family. ffs Many people here only contact their family on the phone.
    Up to the present, they said that children who played with their PC and consoles would be less able and mentally active than children who didn't. Then they realised that the kids who "didn't" were all on the couch watching TV. Any kid who was online or playing games was actually using their brain.

    Conclusion?
    People have been moaning about new ideas, music and technology for a very long time. I'm sure Aristotle had something to say on the matter and if his statement was put into a modern paper, nobody would notice. (if it was translated first!)

  • by X-Nc (34250) <nilrin@noSPAM.gmail.com> on Saturday August 09, 2003 @02:34PM (#6655581) Homepage Journal
    So what does it mean if you start out as a "very lonely, depressed, negative, anti-social, brilliant" person?

    Seriouslly if it weren't for my son I would just as well spend my whole life online. I'm tired of interfacing with mundane's. The only people I can stand are other techies.

  • Odd (Score:5, Funny)

    by Piquan (49943) on Saturday August 09, 2003 @02:37PM (#6655592)
    I work from home. My coworker just IM'd me this link. You think they're trying to tell me something?
  • by rudy_wayne (414635) on Saturday August 09, 2003 @02:38PM (#6655598)
    "The study, which monitored the mental-health changes of 25,000 Japanese high-tech workers over three years, found that employees who worked five hours or more in front of a computer were more prone to depression and anxiety."

    Yes, it's true. If you spend several hours at a computer doing menial work that you hate, overseen by a boss you hate (and vice-versa) then you'll most likely become bitter, anxiety ridden and depressed.

    On the other hand, I spend several hours a day sitting at a computer doing a job that I love and I'm not the least bit depressed. In fact, I look forward to going to work every day.

    People had lousy jobs that sucked and made them depressed long before computers were invented. Let's quit blaming computers for all of society's ills.

  • by neglige (641101) on Saturday August 09, 2003 @02:41PM (#6655609)
    I think the problem here is that workers who work alone (with the help of a computer) become lonely. Makes sense. But that is a problem with the surroundings, not with the computer.

    I work at the university, couple of hours per day at a computer. Still, the co-workes and I have lunch together, take the time off to grab a coffee, or just wander over into the room next door to have a chat.

    So if you feel lonely/depressed, try to work with a group of people (you like - that, of course, is a prerequisite), close to them, maybe in the same room.

    And... maybe... don't reload the Slashdot page every minute! (SCNR)
  • by Daetrin (576516) on Saturday August 09, 2003 @03:07PM (#6655754)
    small groups of engineers who went to completely electronic communication in their workgroups became 'very lonely, depressed, negative, anti-social, brilliant people.'

    I'm already lonely, depressed, negative, and anti-social, but now i can become brilliant too! Sign me up!

    • "I'm already lonely, depressed, negative, and anti-social, but now i can become brilliant too! Sign me up!

      Howard Dean for President [deanforamerica.com] "

      I must be one of a few people who realized that last line is your sig, and only because we've seen it before. Dude, you covered the "steps you need to lose your job" pretty well:

      1) Get job as intern for presidential candidate
      2) Insult top boss in front of thousands
      3) ???
      4) Profit (?)

      I'm just kidding around man... Everybody knows slashdot's readership
    • 'very lonely, depressed, negative, anti-social, brilliant people.'

      I'm already lonely, depressed, negative, and anti-social, but now i can become brilliant too! Sign me up!


      I don't know of any other kind of 'brilliant people'. No guarantees, but you've got what it takes!

      Then again, one problem with being 'very lonely, depressed, negative, anti-social,' is that you'll probably never know if you are brilliant...
      • Then again, one problem with being 'very lonely, depressed, negative, anti-social,' is that you'll probably never know if you are brilliant...

        You will probably convince yourself that you are brilliant.

        JP

  • by Kirin3 (133278) on Saturday August 09, 2003 @03:07PM (#6655757)
    I'm certainly not going to be one of those folks who says an immediate 'yes' or 'no' to the question of technology turning us into things that we all know we're perfectly capable of without technology, but here is a different spin from some of the comments I've been reading:

    (Keep in mind this is based on personal experiences)

    - Many people do not own a landline phone unless they have ADSL.
    - Many people do not use email anymore due to spam.
    - Many people do not use IMs as they are far too many in number, and again have the spam issue.


    This means they are often unavailable to a real-time communications, potentially emergency communications.

    Some people take it to extremes, avoiding people by not using the methods they know their friends or family use, or by leaving everything to voicemail/email/IMs and simply ignoring messages. It's amazingly easy to ignore people when you have caller ID on your phones too.

    Of those who do stay connected (often via every means possible), here are some behaviors I've noticed:

    - Many people are getting obsessive about checking email, how much they're getting, and how they can get more without subscribing to mailing lists.
    - Talking on the cellphone during obviously inappropriate and/or plain dangerous activities.
    - Leaving their status as 'online' on all IMs to maybe increase the chance somebody wants to talk.
    - Gotta have a landline, cellphone, PDA, MP3-man, [insert nifty new devices here].


    I think more than anything, the current state of technology and communication is forcing the shy folks into hiding, and giving an amazing opportunity for all the people (worthy or not) of all that extra exposure to expose whatever it is they want to.

    You're going to get morons. You're going to get brilliant individuals. And their profession really doesn't matter any more than it used to, the pace of life and the introduction of technology is simply accelerating people's reactions too.

  • The real problem (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Kostya (1146) on Saturday August 09, 2003 @03:12PM (#6655780) Homepage Journal
    Yes, anyone with some sense and normal social skills will feel the isolation of only using IM and email to communicate. But the real problem, the real source of frustration and stress are, well, the "true jerks".

    This may seem obvious, but think about it. If you work remotely, is it that working remotely sucks or that the one real jerk you have to work with is empowered by IM and email to be even a greater jerk than he would normally be. Even real, genuine idiots and losers have no guts and will rarely treat you horribly to your face. But add some remoteness and the sense of safety that comes with email or IM, and you have a horrible working situation.

    Sure, the tech can be isolating if you don't have any sense of balance. But what makes it intolerable and a real source of stress are these jerks. Yes, they would still be a jackass in person, but deep down you know they wouldn't have the guts to say what they are saying in email to your face.

    Is it technology's fault? No. These people are jerks no matter what--they just use the technology that the rest of us enjoy to be even greater jerks. They are the genuine trolls and the losers who infest USENET--except they act this way in real life. They are everywhere you go--they just are more bold when they can hide behind a computer.

  • by shoemakc (448730) on Saturday August 09, 2003 @03:45PM (#6655905) Homepage

    What shall we use...To fill...the empty... spaces...Where...we used...to talk?

    For some it's drugs, for others booze....and yet for others gadgets. They're always there for you and they never question you.

    Rather then develop any sort of lasting personal relationships, a person can just continuely obsess about that new gadget you want. Once i get that new wireless phone/pda, I'll finally be cool; I'll finally be happy.

    -Chris

  • http://www.kevinandkell.com/
    http://www.sluggy.co m/
    http://www.schlockmercenary.com
    http://www.vi ncifruit.com/
    http://www.comics.com/comics/roseis rose/index.html

    For when you OD on the above.
    http://jack.keenspace.com/
  • became 'very lonely, depressed, negative, anti-social, brilliant people
    In other words, it was a total success?
  • Lonely, depressed, negative, anti-social, bri... damn! Oh well, 4 out of 5 ain't bad.
  • Listen to http://www.protonradio.com (click tune in), get your groove on and go out and dance dammit!

    If you're gonna be a geek, you might as well have fun doing it. Alex Zavatone : ]

  • I went through the article but could not but help noticing that it relied on "anecdotal" and not "scientific" evidence. For example were there any controlled experiments between users and non users of technology ? Were there historical comparisons under different economical conditions ?

    People have problems with technology because they dont learn how to use it or what to use it for before using it. For example on getting a cellphone lots of people try to "overuse" them atleast during the initial period b
  • More seriously, social networks break down for a number of reasons. I like to think that my efforts creating a company BBS for all off our scattered regional offices will bring more people closer together than tear them apart.
  • I'll admit up front that I haven't more than skimmed the linked article, but this sort of question comes up fairly often and in more general terms: which is the cause and which is the symptom? Did more tech make the techies less social and more isolated, or did those with antisocial tendencies gravitate toward the more technical jobs? It stikes me as similar to the argument that violent movies and video games make children violent, as opposed to already violent children happening to especially like violent
  • What? (Score:2, Funny)

    by brj (665333)
    '[blah], [blah], [blah], [blah], brilliant people.' Sounds good to me.
  • very lonely, depressed, negative, anti-social, brilliant people.

    So this will make me brilliant? Sign me up!

  • It's true that technology is a poor substitute for a happy social life, but at the same time, technology doesn't start lawsuits, sleep around, kill your dog, or burgle your home.
    People easily cause much more grief than technology does, and I think a large part of the geek's preference for machines is a desire to avoid that kind of shit.
    Personally I'm happy to spend time with people and accept the bad with the good, and I prefer an evening in a cafe to an evening with Slashdot. But it's not always easy. An

Take care of the luxuries and the necessities will take care of themselves. -- Lazarus Long

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