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Saturday, March 24, 2012

Bipolar and Continuous Change

Society is becoming increasingly connected and dependent on digital technology.  In all aspects of our lives we are changing alongside, together with, and within our digital world. 

Today's digital world imparts to us its own sources of change stemming from its characteristic of continuous innovation.  And we're also experiencing change at an increasing rate.  Meaning all this new technology is requiring us to change with it, at a faster and faster pace.

I don't know the relationship between change and bipolar disorder.  But I do know if change leads to excessive stress then it surely will contribute to more and worse bipolar symptoms.

Technology Innovation

Technological innovation is the process of developing, making, using, and disseminating better or more effective products, services, technology, or ideas.  It is the innovation component that drives change in society, economics, business, and people's lifestyle and quality of life.

Innovation in the computer industry has been and remains remarkable.  From my perspective, information technology really started taking off in the mid 1980s when my dad brought home the Commodore 64.  It was one of the first popular take home computers.  For me it went like this:
  • 30 years ago, 1982 - I knew of computers and some of their capabilities.  I remember being fascinated by the ability for computers to talk to each other through the modem and phone line. 
  • 20 years ago, 1992 - Universities, businesses, and some people had email.  All students had email accounts and many their own x86 PC (or Mac).  I got my first computer then. 
  • 15 years ago, 1997 - Everyone's getting on the web.  Which browser should I use?   Everybody has at least one email address.  
  • 10 years ago, 2002 - Now most grandparents and relatives have email accounts.  Internet utility, traffic, and web capabilities are clearly known and being utilized by businesses.
  • 5 years ago, 2007 -  The new iphone brings the cell phone to the web.  Portable devices are making home PCs less desirable.  Social media is popular.  I thought it was a fad.  Wrong!
  • 3 years ago, 2009 - I'm using my iphone during all waking hours.  It is ridiculous.  Wi-fi in use everywhere.  Facebook is at 150 million active users and starting to explode.
  • Now, 2012 - I have 3 Blogger accounts, 2 Twitter, 3 Facebook, 3 G+, and 5 email addresses.  I have two PCs, a printer/copier/scanner/fax and my iphone for devices and wifi in my home.

Technological Change

It is clear that today we experience massive amounts of change because of technology.  Also, this burden of change is increasing as society becomes more interconnected and dependent on the digital world view.

Can it be that technological change is the primary driving source for the development of human civilization?  Think about all the areas in your life touched or even controlled by technology.  Car, work, communication, leis

As an example, consider social media.  How has your involvement with online social media changed over the years?  How has social media changed the way you communicate with your friends, relatives, co-workers, businesses, and other interests and communities?  Does any of this add stress or activate bipolar symptoms?

I saw a family at a table in our local diner.  They were all looking down and praying before their meal.  I thought to myself, it's good to see people are still grateful for their food.  But I looked closer and realized they were all looking down at their cell phones and texting!  Or were they sexting?

Change Affects Your Life

Changes in life and society from technological innovation can be helpful or harmful.  We tend to think of the benefits of change because innovation is associated with improved efficiency, comfort, convenience, and capabilities

For example, when I changed from a regular cell phone to a new smart phone I become more efficient (e.g., faster messaging), could now conveniently send and receive data through my phone, and I gain a tremendous amount of wireless computing capabilities.

You will not likely find a person who owns a smart phone dwelling on its harmful elements.  Can you see someone saying that they are worried because their new smart phone is going to take jobs from U.S. workers?  How about someone saying that their modern cell service hurts small business because the industry has become monopolized?

Innovation significantly effects the mental illness health care industry with new drug development; greater knowledge from research and clinical practice; mobile apps for capturing and analyzing mood data; and improved communication. 

Within 24 hours I can get my blood tested in my home town, take a flight to Paris, access my results from my iphone from Europe, analyze the results with my new iphone medical app, and comment back to my doctor about my latest theory about thyroid levels and bipolar symptoms (which I quickly researched from my iphone).  Amazing.

Bipolar Impacts

Don't think for one minute I'm going to try and explain how technological change impacts those suffering with bipolar disorder.  There are too many significant other factors like family, health, relationships, environment, genetics, occupation, stress, and medicine.  This makes it difficult to understand the true impacts from change.

I do know impacts from technological innovation are positive or negative depending on the person and their circumstances. Negative effects might be social isolation/withdrawal, increased anxiety, or a decreasing attention span.   Positive effects could be increased social interaction (online at least) and increasing self-help power to the individual. 

Technology Trap 

Regardless of anything you do, technological innovation will continue to change you, your life, society, business, and culture.  Tomorrow will never be the same as it was or is today.

The modern view seems to prefer trying to keep pace with technological innovation.  They say we can solve the problems of man and surely correct any associated "negative external issues" from technology development and advancement.  This means as a society we collectively agree to continue changing and evolving at the rate of technological innovation.  

Survival is the catch 22 of our technological landscape.  If you do nothing, technological change will continuously reduce your skills until you are absolete.  If you participate, then you are now an indentured servant to the 24/7/365 technology innovation process.  Welcome, to the matrix.

Using social media as an example again, you should certainly expect continued, rapid innovation in social media that will inevitably bring significant change.  How much it affects you depends on your relationship to social media.  If you do nothing you will be like the old folks now that don't use a cell phone.  

For those in the marketing and social media industry, it is now about how well you adjust, adapt, and survive with the continuously evolving technology.  For someone who likes to shop online that means they will be able to friend, +1, and tweet their favorite stores. 

Moving Forward 

It is no secret that we are in the middle of lot of change and societal evolution.  Nobody knows where all of this is going or what impact these changes are going to bring.  Society has collectively come to an agreement that technology is necessary and we will adapt to its changes.

Since we are expecting continuous change to happen, it is a good idea to stay "tuned in" to changes going on in your life.  Be ready to embrace change in a positive, proactive way.  Educate yourself areas important to you and use your knowledge to better navigate the change.  Finally, be aware and mindfully manage your life challenges, especially your mental wellness.


  1. There is so much technology to come to grips with. I have bipolar disorder and am trying to make my living by internet marketing.
    I do find it hard to keep up with all the advances.

  2. Ray - Thanks for stopping by and commenting. Yeah, I wish I knew of better ways to deal with change that I have no control over, like IT/web changes. I find myself having anxiety, worry, and disappointment while going through some changes. For example, I currently need a new portable computer. My first thought was a laptop, but now I'm wondering if the iPad would be better?