15 Jan 2014
- Written by Kam Williams
There's a lot more to life than accelerating its pace, but you wouldn't know it judging by the everyday behavior of most folks lately. People have become so hopelessly dependent on smart phones, computer tablets and the like, that they can't go for more than a few minutes without texting, checking their messages or looking something up online, however trivial.
I first recognized this phenomenon a few years ago when I was invited to a friend's house for Passover. During the Seder, while his family and friends were taking turns reading from the holy Haggadah, he was secretly texting away under the table. Despite being contrite and embarrassed when I pointed out to everybody that our host was ignoring the sacred ritual, he was right back at it less than five minutes later.
Back then, I had no words for such behavior besides rudeness, but thanks to Dr. Stephanie Brown we now have a diagnosis of addiction to speed. In her groundbreaking book, "Speed: Facing Our Addiction to Fast and Faster – and Overcoming Our Fear of Slowing Down," she bemoans the fact that the culture has morphed into a ramped-up dystopia where machines lead and humans follow.
What's particularly unhealthy about that state of affairs is that we simply can't keep pace with demanding electronic stimuli that never need to rest. Hence, we're fated to fail without the resolve to say "Enough is enough!" and then set reasonable limits.
How do you know if you're hooked? The author has 20 questions that will help you discern whether you have a problem, including: Do you want to slow down, but cannot? Do you work longer and longer hours, but don't ever finish? Do you check your email and reach for your phone first thing and last? Do you feel nervous without your tech gear in hand or pocket?
If you answered "yes" to any of the above, there is still hope, provided you are willing to redefine success to include "delay, endurance and enough." The goal is to cultivate a new way of thinking via willpower and reflection to put you on a healthier, less stressful path.
A viable, step-by-step guide to sane cell phone use.
Excerpt from the Prologue (pages 4-16)
"This is a book about a new kind of addiction that I believe has taken hold in our culture... I call it the addiction to speed... I'm talking about a culture-wide phenomenon that is snatching people up and carrying them along, convincing them that doing 'more, better, and faster' is the path to happiness.
"Some people see it as a result of our increasingly wired society... I believe technology is only part of the story, however... what I am seeing in my practice as an addiction specialist is that, especially in urban areas, this speed trap is outstripping people's ability to manage, to fulfill all their responsibilities, and even to cope...
"You do not have the ability to be on 24/7 like a computer, but... you push yourself incessantly, creating an addictive spiral. You can't stop... I do want to ask if we can slow things down...
"I want to identify how so many of us have become addicted to speed, how this is encouraged and reinforced by our culture, and how seeing speed through the lens of addiction can help people reclaim their lives. "
Facing Our Addiction to Fast and Faster
and Overcoming Our Fear of Slowing Down"
by Stephanie Brown, Ph.D.
Berkley Publishing Group
(To order a copy of Speed, visit: