Ex-lawyer turned relationship coach

It’s Normal To Feel Overwhelmed

Most of us have a love/hate relationship with our phones. Even though we all would like to spend a little less time on our phones to do something meaningful, the last thing you see before bed and the first thing you reach for in the morning is probably your phone.

We’re addicted.

It’s no surprise that so many smart people are talking about the negative effects of excessive phone usage. Our inordinate screentime is being linked to all sorts of nasty health issues.

This sounds like a now problem. But it’s actually a problem we’ve been suffering from for centuries. It’s a technology problem.

Every time a piece of technology speeds up our pace of life, we tend to feel rushed, overwhelmed, and distracted.

The printing press produced around 200 million new books within a century after its invention. And as the presses cranked out book after book, it became painfully clear that you couldn’t read everything that was out there.

Even the biggest bookworms realised they had to miss out. So already in the 17th century, people felt overwhelmed by information overload.

Then came the steam engine in the 18th century. For thousands of years, we traveled by foot, by boat, or by horse and carriage. So when we could finally shoot across iron roads in iron carts, we couldn’t stop. 

People of the time were worried that the train replaced our joy for leisure and fun with a joyless hurry. 

And similar concerns were raised about the telegraph and telephone. Because technology allows you to be so productive, hardly anyone feels comfortable resting and relaxing. Not getting ahead means sliding back.

Does that mean life was better when we didn’t have these technologies?

It’s hard to say.

Dig into any history book and you’ll see that every big technology gave people both joy and agony. While technology fixes some problems it also creates new ones.

Being able to travel great distances by air is great. But when you’re not flying, it can also make you feel bad about missing out on all kinds of exotic adventures.

So it’s a give and take. And if you know what you want from life, technology will give more than it takes.

By Jeroen Elsing
Ex-lawyer turned relationship coach