The wired world we've created has spawned a whole new range of behaviors to cope with the changing environment.
Francine Toder, a psychologist at California State University -- Sacramento's Psychological Counseling Services, has identified the top 10 computer neuroses. "One person's response to technology might be to push toward it," says Toder. "Another's might be to run away from it. Yet another might think, 'The government is trying to get us.'"
Toder's top 10 personalities are:
The technophobe. Technophobes have a strong fear of technology. They might be otherwise forward-thinking, proactive people, but like a person who is afraid of snakes can be paralyzed when faced with one, they can be paralyzed by technology.
The resister. This is the most common personality. "When you meet someone who fits this profile, you know who they are by the energy it takes to convince them to try something new," says Toder. "Resisters aren't afraid of technology; they dislike newness and prefer the simplicity of a technology-free life."
The challenger. Challengers are similar to resisters, with added anger, hostility, resentment and/or acting out behavior. They may be opposed to technology or show signs of paranoia. They can be destructive, like the Unabomber, or use technology in ways that are harmful, such as committing cybercrime. Toder says this reaction is not uncommon when people get up to speed technologically, then don't receive support from management with hardware, software or other technology.
The hermit. Hermits isolate themselves and avoid face-to-face contact. They may have strong technical skills but weak people skills. They embrace technology but have difficulty communicating with others about it.
The addict. Addicts can't stop. They have a myopic approach to life -- eating, sleeping and breathing technology while ignoring other aspects of work and nonwork life. Addictions take two forms: mind-numbing activities like playing video games and checking stock quotes; and mind expanding activities such as Web surfing.
The driver. These technomaniacs are similar to addicts but with manic energy directed toward outpacing competitors and keeping their cutting edge. Drivers are extroverts who love the attention, appreciation and adoration of others.
The procrastinator. Hidden fear of failure causes this type to avoid doing what needs to be done. Instead, they use technology for less relevant tasks that are easier and more satisfying. Unlike the technophobe, the procrastinator feels competent using technology and uses it to mask feelings of incompetence in other parts of life.
The imposter. Imposters feel like fakes, so they make a big show of playing around on the computer, hoping to avoid being found out. They spend more time covering deficits than doing their job, which interferes with work relationships and further erodes self-esteem.
The player. These are grown-up gamers who distract themselves by playing when things get heavy, scary or difficult. On the job, Web surfing, chat rooms and ongoing e-mail conversations may be the most satisfying parts of the workday. They are only interested in technology as a way to advance their play.
The dreamer. Dreamers have unrealistic expectations about the role of technology. They feel cheated when their grandiose ideas about technology fall short of reality. Dreamers may have a general pattern of wishful thinking, distorted perceptions of what is possible or a tendency to exaggerate.
Toder says that many people will not fit one of these personalities, because they only describe those who have a bad relationship with technology. Todd Shryock (firstname.lastname@example.org) is SBN's special reports editor.