Technophobia is the constant and persistent fear of technology and, in greater depth, is defined as “the feeling of severe anxiety associated with using anything technologically advanced”. The word Technophobia is derived from Greek ‘Techne’ meaning “art, skill or craft” and phobos meaning “fear or aversion”.
Technophobia is known to affect many people around the world. It is a highly studied phobia, since, it was determined that many teachers , including those in highly developed countries, refused to use technological aids to teach their students owing to the severe fear of technology.
Technophobia is the opposite of technophilia. The latter stands for the condition where the individual is so much in love with technology that s/he might even want to change the world with it or use it for combating social problems.
The fear of technology is often culturally or religiously induced. The Amish group of people resists technology because of the convictions of their Faith. Likewise, many environmental groups are known to maintain social stance against technology. This might not be a phobia per se; rather it is what these groups believe to be “best practices”.
Technology is often paradoxical: it is meant to make our life easier, but sometimes it actually complicates it further by making the devices harder to use and learn. Technophobes tend to fear precisely these factors. They believe that, when faced with complex computers, telephone systems, or even Automatic Teller Machines, they might have to deal with complex set of instructions. The average individual usually finds these sets of instructions easy to follow, but in case of Technophobia, the person simply freezes. S/he is so panic-stricken at the thought of using the device that they suffer a mild panic attack. Often they realize that their fears are without any basis, but they are completely powerless over it. Needless to say; this fear of technology is highly limiting and can affect the individual’s day-to-day life.
Causes of Technophobia
Technophobia can be caused due to general anxiety or fear about science or mathematical problems. People often feel intimidated by these subjects and are hence likelier to show computer anxiety.
Popular culture, including sci-fi books, movies and TV shows can also instill this fear. Many movies including Terminator and I, Robot (which shows machines taking over the world and doing what the Humans are supposed to do) could also instill the fear in an anxious mind. Even early 19th Century literature classic, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, is based on the premise of how Technology could backfire.
Technophobia is different from most other specific phobias in that; the phobic is mainly ignorant and does not welcome change. They simply do not understand technology as a result of which they not only fear it but also shun it. Many tend to hate devices, computers and gadgets simply because they are not used to them.
Naturally, the fear of technology is more prevalent in the older generations who did not grow up with computers, complicated acronyms or digital games. Often, the younger generation tries to teach them to the older people, who might not like this fact. This leads to damaged ego and self-esteem which build up and keep fueling self doubts.
Symptoms of fear of technology
The most common symptoms of fear of technology include self doubt, and avoidance behavior.
- The phobic might constantly think about technology and about using it.
- The more sedate symptoms include reluctance or refusal to use computers or preferring to withdraw cash from the human cashier in banks rather than using the “hole-in-the-wall” ATM machine.
- Resisting any automatic processes
- Being unwilling to change to new computer/software systems
- Criticizing technological changes and implementations
- Saying: “I have managed for so long without technology, I can get by”…
- The physical symptoms of Technophobia include feeling breathless, dizzy, having heart palpitations, becoming angry, losing control, feeling detached from reality, being unable to think or speak clearly etc.
Overcoming the fear of computers
Knowledge is the best way of overcoming this fear. Individuals suffering from this phobia must be willing to share ideas, information and knowledge by first admitting to their phobia. They should realize that their phobia is not something they should feel afraid or embarrassed about and that it is neither a disease nor a reflection of their intelligence.
Talk therapy with trained therapists or even through classrooms and forums can also help one give vent to feelings of self doubt.
Younger generation must provide sustained support and help the older individual suffering from this phobia. They should try to be a good mentor and reward every small step taken by the Technophobe to overcome his/her fear of technology.
Gradual and systematic exposure to technological gadgets is a proven method of overcoming Technophobia.