Electronic Wall of Shyness

From an article by Dave Finlayson, “Adult shyness on the rise in modern society”, National Post, May 10, 1999: D2 (as originally published in the Edmonton Journal):

At least half of us suffer sufficiently from the fear of facing strangers that it makes us distinctly uncomfortable in social situations. But what worries Stanford University psychologist Philip Zimbardo is that we’re getting more shy as the decades pass, thanks to modern society and technology’s role in it.

“When I first started doing studies on adult shyness in 1977, 40% said it was a problem. Not it’s up to 50% and growing at 1% a year. Only 5% say they never have a problem with shyness, and that really concerns me,” says Zimbardo, author of two books on the subject…

He blames technology for much of it.

It starts when we’re children, sitting in front of a computer for hours and communicating by e-mail instead of face to face. It continues as adults when we use bank machines instead of talking to a live teller, or pump our own gas, or when we hear a recorded voice instead of talking to a real telephone operator. “These are small things in themselves but they add up. Kids are not learning how to interact with each other and that continues into adulthood.”

Edmonton psychologist Jim Bateman agrees technology is desocializing us.

“It means we relate less interpersonally and less honestly…”

Though what people say about themselves, versus determining the accuracy of self-perception…

Still, 1999 to seventeen years later, with the earphone block and eyes down to the phone…


About brucelarochelle

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