Overly Wired? There’s a Word for That

Overly Wired? There’s a Word for That


shutterstock_217949239WAS there gridlock before there were automobiles? Was there jet lag before there were airplanes? Who was the first person to say “I Googled it” or “he’s cyberstalking me”? At what moment did a “web log” turn into a “blog”?

Language makes things official. Change in the pace of life over the last decade can be measured by change in our vocabulary. We I.M., we get phished, we have PIN’s. We HotSync, therefore we are.

Does a phenomenon fully exist until it has a name? Dr. Edward M. Hallowell thinks not, and he knows more than a little about naming a trend into existence. He was the first to name adult attention deficit disorder, or Adult A.D.D., back in 1995, and now he is taking on the rest of modern life in “CrazyBusy: Overstretched, Overbooked and About to Snap! Strategies for Coping in a World Gone A.D.D.” (Ballantine Books, 2006). The frenzy of our wired world, he argues, is giving nearly all of us the symptoms of attention deficit disorder. To conquer the enemy, he says, we first need to name it.

So he has come up with the following suggestions, among others:

¶Screensucking, which he defines as “wasting time engaging with any screen — for instance, computer, video game, television, BlackBerry.” He goes on to use his new word in a sentence: “I was supposed to write that article, but instead I spent the whole afternoon screensucking.” That concept hits particularly close to home.

¶EMV, or E-Mail Voice. This, Dr. Hallowell writes, is “the unearthly tone a person’s voice takes on when he is reading e-mail while talking to you on the telephone.” Researchers at M.I.T., he tells us, have developed a program that can electronically measure how engaged people are in a conversation, giving scientific certainty to your suspicion that you are not being listened to. READ MORE