Posted by: drrozkaplan | January 10, 2010


This morning my husband had an attack of an ailment he has developed over the last five or so years.  I don’t know if anyone has ever officially diagnosed this ailment, but it causes him great distress and agitation, and, much like other chronic illnesses, upsets the entire family when it flares.  I have looked all over the medical texts and literature trying to put a name to this sickness, and have come up short, so I’ve decided to name it myself:  Technology Panic Disorder, or TPD.

Today’s attack began when I told Larry that I was having problems logging on to the Internet.  I had been revising a chapter and tried to email it to my editor, and nothing happened.  I soon realized that my ‘Airport’ on my laptop was not functioning.  I am not techonlogically inclined.  I use computers and cell phones, in fact a Blackberry, but I really don’t understand much about them.  I just am a USER.  Not a GEEK.  Larry is a GEEK.  So when something isn’t working, I usually consult my GEEK.  So Larry went to check on the Internet connections in the house, and soon discovered that, as he put it, our wireless router was ‘dead’.  Now, I do not know what ‘dead’ means, but at this point, I wasn’t about to ask, because I could see the TPD was starting to act up.  He was hyperventilating and pacing.

“The Apple Store doesn’t open until at least 11 on Sundays,” he informed me, obviously upset.  It was about 10 am at the time.

“So you can go then.”

“It might be later.  But I can’t check, because I can’t get on the Internet!”

“You could call.”

“No, I don’t think so.”

“Well, I will.”  I determined it opened at noon.  He was sighing and moaning by now.

“The router is just past warranty.  It backs up all our data from all our computers.  We’ll have to re-do all of that.”

“Okay,” I said, trying to calm him, as he walked in circles.  “so we will.”

The truth was, nothing was going to make him feel better until the problem was solved.  He is like this anytime something happens with the Internet, his Blackberry, his laptop, his PC at work, really just about anything that has to do with data and information.  It makes him wild to be temporarily disconnected from his intellectual property and from the flow of world information.  I sometimes think the only solution would be to put him in a coma until the problem is resolved.

And believe me, my husband is not the only person I have seen this with this affliction.  It appears more common among men, but I have seen it in women.  Real tech people do not get it.  They are certain of their ability to solve the problem.  People who need a lot of control seem to be more vulnerable.  More research is clearly needed to further characterize the target population.

Obviously, this is not a problem that existed 20 years ago.  It is the advent of multiple technological devices that has created it.  The fact that many of us are tied to, and dependent on, several of these devices at all times, seems to be the reason this new malady was able to come about.

What a culture we live in!  When ‘car phones’ first became available, I remember being reluctant to get one because the car was a haven, a place where I was free of being ‘found’.  I gave in after someone rear-ended me in one of the worst neighborhoods in Philly and even the guy on the corner told me I shouldn’t get out of my car.  Now EVERYONE has a cell phone, and we all think that every person should be available at every minute by phone, text, beeper, email…G-d forbid you’re in the bathroom when someone is trying to reach you through multiple modalities!  Like road rage, Technology Panic Disorder is a sign of the times, and there is no evidence it will be going away any time soon.

No wonder TPD has developed.  But is there a cure?  Or at least a treatment?  The attack today was abated when the Apple ‘Genius’ told Larry that in fact the router was under warranty, and he replaced it, then Larry was able to reconstruct the network backup, and get our Internet access back up.  But that is only a bandaid.  There will be another episode and another after that.  We need to start looking for a cure.



  1. Ahhh….have had the experience of losing computer access recently and contacted my own technology expert….but I prefer to call him Guru. Glad all is up and running again.


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