New Economy Depression Syndrome
By Dana Greenlee,
co-Host WebTalkGuys Radio
Thursday, September 26, 2003; 12:20pm EST
Many of us living in today�s fast-paced new economy find ourselves
scanning hundreds of pages of information daily while enduring a
constant flow of interruptions from cell phones, palms, pocket pc�s,
instant messaging and pagers.
Some of us even e-mail the person in the cubicle next to us instead of
walking five feet to ask a question. We�re part of the always-on
Tim Sanders knows this all too well as Yahoo�s chief solutions
officer, author of �Love is the Killer Ap� and coiner of such terms as
�Lovecat� and �NEDS� (new economy depression syndrome). New study
findings link heavy Internet usage, information overload and social
isolation to NEDS � a sort of carpel tunnel of the mind. Sanders took
a moment between interviews on ABC�s �PrimeTime Live� and CNN�s �Lou
Dobbs Moneyline� to talk about NEDS symptoms and cure.
Q: What�s up with this NEDS?
Sanders: NEDS is an acronym for new economy depression
syndrome. It�s a mental state that a result of a combination of
information overload and frequent interruption resulting in and
erosion of personal close relationships. The symptoms are anxiety,
fatigue, stress and lower productivity and irritability in a team
Q: The online piece of our business and personal life is only
getting more substantial. What you telling people who are involved in
the online world of the massive way how to adapt?
Sanders: What we�ve noticed is that the survey respondents have
strong personal relationships at work in homes suffer less symptoms
despite being attacked by the same amount of information. The number
one solution is resiliency through warm living. That means a certain
amount of face-to-face contact, phone contact on long-term e-mail
relationships and living in the warm channels, contributing warm
thoughts and ideas. Those create shock absorbers that can help you
deal with this information.
Personally, if I turned everything off, I would be a very effective
chief solutions officer at Yahoo. If I didn�t check my e-mail, carry a
Blackberry or pager, it would be very difficult for me to maintain
execution focus. Unfortunately, I�m still pummeled every day by
information. But I�m buffering with strong business relationships,
strong warm-hearted thinking patterns. I�m creating tech-free zones
throughout my day.
Q: You�re suggesting more of a balance in how you use technology
and live your everyday life.
Sanders: I actually like to think of it is a high-tech diet.
Think about it this way: When the health craze was going on, everybody
was going to be physically fit. They said, �Don�t take the elevator.
Take the stairs.� So I say, �Don�t send an instant message 15 feet.
Get up! Walk 15 feet. See someone�s face.� They�ll transfer
physiological energy to you face-to-face. It�s just a different way of
behaving. If you and I went back and forth twice with e-mail � that
it! I�m right to call you rather than e-mail reply. That�s a habit.
I think you have to be conscious about it. That�s why there�s a motto
across my cubicle that says �In a world of inforuption, love is a
Q: Is dealing with technology a generational thing?
Sanders: The older you are, the harder it is to withstand
stress. The reason why is a concept I call �digital natives� versus
�digital immigrants.� My teenager has been online since he was 6. Over
80 percent of his life has been online. He�s a native. That�s his
natural environment. In my 40s, I don�t think I�ve been online 20
percent of my life. As a result, that�s all new to me. That�s what
stress is. Stress is literally something I cannot control, withstand -
it�s new. Novelty creates stress. As a result, these businesspeople
that are in their 40s and 50s � this is so new to us. We are drinking
out of a fire hose. It�s amazing. You take a 50-year-old CEO and in
one year, not only does he now check e-mail, he is armed with a belt
CrackBerry pager and is available 24/7. His grandfather only worked 25
hours a week. Now the CEO is always on. It�s very difficult to adjust
to that and it leads to a lot of additional stress for the older
Q: I�ve known some IT guys that work really hard but really cut
themselves off from human interaction, turning from geeks and nerds to
Sanders: It�s a downward spiral. People began to create walls.
You start leaving voicemail messages that say �Don�t leave a message.
They build a wall around them. They start displacing strong, yet
vulnerable relationships with friends with weak and risk-free
relationships with online buddies. It�s easy to delete something. It�s
difficult to have a real confrontation over instant message. This is
especially true with men. Our survey research found you were much more
likely to be a man than a woman and have NEDS.
Q: Can you give me an example?
Sanders: One of the pieces of advice I always give managers is
you haven�t seen the face of your employee in a quarter, that�s
alarming. If you haven�t heard their voice for you allow them to work
in a secluded environment where all they do is type and read all day,
it�s a problem. I would tell managers they need to break the cycle.
Itemize one thing that you admire about them, either personally or
professionally, and physically approach them, sit next to them and
tell them why you are glad they came into your life. You�ll help
create the energy transfer and you may very well reverse the trend in
About two weeks ago I received an e-mail from a manager of the
software company. He had six engineers. He said he had seen their
faces an almost a year. That�s just how they work. They�re all the
same floor, on the same wing business faster to them to work
completely on instant messaging. He told me he was going to follow my
When he followed up with me, he said, �You�re not going to believe
this. One of my software engineers � Lenny � just bought me and an
X-box system as a gift. When I asked him where he got the money to buy
that system, he said he sold his chrome 9 mm.�
When you�re a boss and you hear something like that, you tend to pay a
lot of attention. He said, �What do you mean?�
Lenny said, �When I moved here to Seattle a few years ago my mom just
died. She was my only friend in the world. So I went to work here. I
work about 60 hours a week in a cubicle. I got really depressed.I got
so depressed one day I went down to a pawn shop and bought a beautiful
9 mm and some bullets. It took me about three months to actually get
the first bullet in the gun.It took me another six months to actually
lift the gun up and put it to my head. I was getting closer and
�Then last week you really freaked me out. You came into my cubicle.
You put your arm around me. You told me that you value me because I
finish everything early and you sleep better at night.You said you are
glad I came into your life.
�When I went home that night, I went through all the same things I�ve
been doing for months, but when I opened the box and saw the gun � for
the first time it scared me to death. So the next morning I sold it,
got $200 for it, didn�t know what to do with the money. I knew you
always wanted an X-box. This is my gift to you. Dude � thanks.�
There�s a lot of those people out there � more than you know.
For More Information
For information on NEDS and more conversation with Tim Sanders, the
full audio interview is available starting Saturday at WebTalkGuys.com.
The NEDS website is at http://www.GotNeds.com/.
You can purchase his book �Love is the Killer Ap� at
About Source of Article
Dana Greenlee is producer and co-host of the WebTalkGuys Radio
Show. WebTalkGuys, a Seattle-based talk show featuring
technology news and interviews. It is broadcast on WebTalkGuys Radio,
Sonic Box, via Pocket PC at Mazingo Networks and the telephone via the
Mobile Broadcast Network. It's on the radio in Seattle at KLAY
1180 AM. Past show and interviews are also webcast via the
Internet at http://www.webtalkguys.com/. Greenlee is also a member of the The
International Academy of Digital Arts & Sciences.