Letting off steam in the connected age
This morning’s schedule was unusual – though not as unique as I might wish for. My train arrived 12 minutes late, and packed to the gills. I spent the time standing in the cold basking in the glow of my phone – flipping off a quick email and then posting my aggravation to the captive facebook crowd I’ve amassed over time.
It was kind of like a cross between a quiet offloading to a good friend and an out-loud shout of my frustration. It felt liberating and calming to be able to just talk it out – even if the conversation was one-sided at first.
During the stop-start journey over the next hour and a half I used my iphone, apps and internet to both amuse myself, but also to relieve the frustration of a journey not going to plan. Looking up, I could see many other commuters engaged in similar activities. Meanwhile, the increasing number of ‘like’ responses and comments on my post had given me the digital equivalent of a one-armed shoulder hug and told me that ‘We’ll get through it – it’s ok’…and it was.
Years ago, the only outlet to let off steam in a packed train was your fellow passengers or network staff (and the person you are faced with is unlikely to be the one responsible), but these days we can reach out to anyone we need and find any number of ears to listen. There’s a strong case to be made for social support networks as effective stress management tools.
Does being more connected lead us to a future in which dealing with stress in public is easier?