Monday, June 18, 2012

Ypologistophobia (a.k.a. Fear of Computers)

By Tom Kando

Ten years ago, Time Magazine came out with a hilarious list of hundreds of phobias, many listed in the Diagnostic Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association.

I did not see 'computer phobia' in that list, yet I know that this disease exists, because I sometimes suffer from it.

Let me suggest a fine new name for the disease, and some of the symptoms. This will facilitate its inclusion in the APA’s Diagnostic Statistical Manual next year. Name of the Disease: Intermittent Cyberspace Anxiety Syndrome, or Ypologistophobia, which is Greek for “fear of computers”.

1) Onset of the disease: In my case, attacks of the disease are typically triggered by a computer malfunction and by the anticipation of a technical challenge.

2) Initial physiological reaction: My body’s first reaction is increased perspiration, rapid breathing and increased heart-rate.

3) Psychological responses: Psychologically, my mind anticipates failure, for example failure to download from a web site or connect to a link.

4) Moreover, my mind is convinced that this failure will result in life-long catastrophe for me, my job, my family and my community.

5) This is accompanied by paranoia: I am convinced that the I.T. person to whom I turn for help will treat me with contempt and think that I am a moron. He will dazzle me by racing through dozens of incomprehensible procedures, treating my keyboard or my iPad the way Arthur Rubinstein treated the piano. But he will not be able to answer a single question or explain a single problem to me in a coherent and logical fashion. And by the way, I know that by law, computer geeks may not be older than eighteen, and they must have Asian ancestry.

Who is at Risk? My wife and I have occasional bouts of this illness, but it is rarely virulent. On the other hand, my mother is highly susceptible to it. In general, elderly people have low resistance to the illness, while young people are practically immune to it. Why this is so remains a medical mystery. Also, people who are anally retentive, compulsive-obsessive control freaks are the most vulnerable.

Cure: The psychiatric experts quoted in Time’s cover story about phobias remind us that the best cure for any phobia is to confront the problem and deal with it. In other words, DO precisely that which you are afraid of doing. If you are afraid of flying, make sure you go on airplanes. So I have resolved to take my computer with me wherever I go. When I went to Hawaii recently, I had my laptop with me at all times, on the beach, at Luaus, on hiking trips. Because if it weren’t for computers, nothing great would ever get accomplished. For example, computers would have greatly improved the quality of Shakespeare’s work.

There is, however, a side-effect to the cure: It can produce another disease, which is called Ypologistophilia - addiction to Cyberspace. leave comment here