Are you hooked on speed?

One of my pleasures in life is coffee!
Sipping by myself . . . a cup by my keyboard when I’m writing . . . afternoon coffee and cookies with friends. . . .
And I often try to have coffee with my daughter. I say “try to” because it seldom works!
At least a couple times a day, my daughter will say, “Do you want to sit down for a quick cup of coffee?”
Immediately, I leave the computer, head to my La-Z-Boy, put my feet up, begin sipping, and wait!
Sometimes she comes. Sometime she doesn’t.
When she does come, she brings her cellphone with her. And, invariably, we are interrupted.
The interruptions usually require immediate action–more phone calls, sending e-mails, or meeting someone.
Often I wait, just in case. But my waiting is rarely rewarded.
My daughter is a self-employed photographer, musician, and innkeeper. And she can’t afford to miss phone calls.
Thinking back, it seems my daughter’s frazzled life began when she switched from a landline to a cellphone. Now she is never out of reach of the phone.
But thinking back further, I think all this speed began with the fax machine.
At the time, I was the head of a communications team in a mental health center, which had offices in four separate counties. Our department worked directly with all four and we had many requests.
Before fax, we were reliant on courier service. But the fax machine would save time—we thought!
What actually happened was the whole process was speeded up, and our dizzying “instant everything” was born!
Historians describe “acceleration” as a central feature of modern society, beginning with the 18th century. “People have to go fast and then faster,” psychologist Stephanie Brown writes in her new book, entitled “Speed.”
Speed is a cultural addiction in the 21st century as new technology continues to speed us up. First cellphones, then smartphones. First e-mail, then texting.
All of this connectivity takes its toll and results in loss of control, says Brown. And being out-of-control never feels good!
Speed is a major cause of stress in our lives. And stress accelerates the aging process, and makes us more vulnerable to anxiety and depression.
But we still can’t stop because we’re hooked. That, says Brown, is the definition of addiction.
Brown is an addiction psychologist, and has written several books to help recovering alcoholics and their families.
The whole title of this book is “Speed: Facing Our Addiction to Fast and Faster–And Overcoming Our Fear of Slowing Down.”
The last part of “Speed” is a workbook for seriously-addicted “speedoholics.” But most of the readers of this column need only a gentle reminder.
So take heed and slow down the pace of your busy life. Learn to pause and reflect on your behaviour, your feelings, and your thoughts.
Ask yourself the question: “Am I hooked on speed?”
If so, why not choose a new kind of life. The slower, more relaxed pace you deserve.
It’s up to you to make it happen.
Get started by following the Alcoholics Anonymous advice: “One step at a time.”
Write Marie Snider at