Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Panda Bear on Stresses of Modern Life

The Panda Bear took a stress management course tonight where she worked.   The Panda Bear is in what modern times the medical profession  would call an anxious person.   However, the Panda Bear prefers the earlier medical term "Neurasthenia" which meant nervous exhaustion to the term anxiety.   When the Panda Bear gets nervous she will feel overwhelmed with things she has to do and no time to do it.   She has learned to say no to certain activities and work at a slower pace.  

The Panda Bear Blog was a recent source of anxiety to the Panda Bear.   She started it on impulse about two months ago as a hobby.  While she enjoys learning about blogging, she feels overwhelmed about all the things she has to learn.   Experts give different kinds advise on how to write blogs.  She panics at not having a clear enough blog focus.  On some intellectual level, the Panda Bear knows her fears are irrational.  It would not be tragic if her blog were a failure and no one read it.

Blogging is an example of how technology can creates new forms of stress.  Before blogging, there was no blogging anxiety.  

Technology can also creates stress is that it increases the pace of modern life.   One of the Panda Bear's favorite books on stress was written in 1881 called American nervousness : its causes and consequences, a supplement to Nervous exhaustion (neurasthenia) (1881) written by neurologist called George Beard.  He described how the telegraph, light bulb, pocket watch and newspaper were making life more stressful for Americans.  George Beard makes the telegraph seem very much like the world wide web of the nineteenth century.  He states:

The telegraph is a cause of nervousness the po-
tency of which is little understood. Before the
days of Morse and his rivals, merchants were far
less worried than now, aud less business was trans-
acted in a given time ; prices fluctuated far less
rapidly, and the fluctuations which now are trans-
mitted instantaneously over the world were only
known then by the slow communication of sailing
vessels or steamships ; hence we might wait for
weeks or months for a cargo of tea from China,
trusting for profit to prices that should follow their
arrival ; w^hereas, now, prices at each port are known
at once all over the globe. This continual fluctua-
tion of values, and the constant knowledge of those
fluctuations in every part of the world, are the
scourges of business men, the tyrants of trade —
every cut in prices in wholesale lines in the smallest
of any of the Western cities, becomes know^n in less
than an hour all over the Union ; thus competition
is both diffused and intensified. Within but thirty
years the telegraphs of the world have grown to
half a million miles of line, and over a million
miles of wire — or more than forty times the circuit
of the globe. In the United States there were, in
1880, 170,103 miles of line, and in that year 33,155,991
messages w^ere sent over them.

Sometimes, The Panda Bear  finds the modern 24 hour news cycle stressful.   When the news gets to be too sad she has to turn it off.   George Beard described how the daily newspaper made life more stressful for people in the nineteenth century.   He states.

Little account has been made of the fact that
the old world is small geographically. The ancient
Greeks knew only of Greece and the few outside
barbarians who tried to destroy them. The dis-
covery of America, like the invention of printing,
prepared the way for modern nervousness; and, in
connection with the telegraph, the railway, and the
periodical press increased a hundred-fold the dis-
tresses of humanity.

The sorrows of any part of the world, many
times greater geographically than the old world
as known to the ancients, through the medium of .
the press and the telegraph are made the sorrows of
individuals everywhere.

The burning of Chicago — a city less than half a
century old, on a continent whose existence was un-
known a few centuries ago — becomes in a few hours
the property of both hemispheres, and makes heavy
drafts on the vitality not only of Boston and New
York, but of London, Paris, and Yienna. With
the extension and complexity of populations of the
globe, with the rise and growth of nations and peo-
ples, these local sorrows and local horrors become
daily occasions of nervous disorders.

Our morning newspaper, that we read with our
breakfast, has the history of the sorrows of the whole
world for a day ; and a nature but moderately sym-
pathetic is robbed thereby, consciously or uncon-
sciously, of more or less nervous strength.

The Panda Bear is not a Luddite.   She loves the computer.   She thinks that people should be aware that technology "improvements" can be making life more fast-paced.

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