Tag Archives: anxiety

Design in the Age of Anxiety

“Nothing distorts intent like anxiety. Anxiety pulls focus from the goal and lets energy flow towards distractions and perceived threats. Anxiety flourishes in the absence of information.”

Erika Hall, co-founder of Mule Design, has written an interesting piece on design, our anxieties, and the future titled “Design in the Age of Anxiety: To create a better future, understand the now.

I should point out that it’s interesting to me because I work in the field of design almost every day, specifically from the linguistic end, but the truth is that design is all around us in so many different forms (the font you’re currently reading this in, the shape of the device you’re reading it from, the colour palette of the walls/street/buildings surrounding you, and on it and on it goes).

“Design is exciting because it is the practice of shaping the future. Research requires the discipline of taking an honest look at the past and present. The present is a mess. It always is. But the present is the soil in which we grow our potential futures. Those who strive for innovation without inquiry will have trouble getting their ideas to thrive in the real world.”

Among Ms. Hall’s many other witty quips and observations, some of them included but were not limited to:

“The future spreads like cold butter.”

“Innovation takes hold when a new idea fits into existing habits like a key into a lock.”

“With the right information, delivered with care, anxiety dissipates.”

“Innovation without inquiry leads to trouble in the real world.”

And from her website:

“We don’t trust people who want to like us. They tell you what you want to hear. They choose friendship over criticism. And they don’t make your work better. To us, a compliment doesn’t count unless it’s given begrudgingly by someone who’d rather kick our asses.”

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Anxiety, Not Depression

 

“Anxiety is the most common mental-health disorder in the United States, affecting nearly one-third of both adolescents and adults, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. But unlike depression, with which it routinely occurs, anxiety is often seen as a less serious problem.”

On the heels of World Mental Healthy Day, The New York Times has followed up with an informative article about the disorder which doesn’t get as much “play time” in the headlines as its more infamous sibling, depression, but is deadly nonetheless.

Benoit Denizet-Lewis has published a well-researched article titled “Why Are More American Teenagers Than Ever Suffering From Anxiety?” and the answer, though never easy to pinpoint for any one specific person, is sometimes more obvious when looking at entire groups of people. As Mr. Denizet-Lewis writes:

“For many young people, particularly those raised in abusive families or who live in neighborhoods besieged by poverty or violence, anxiety is a rational reaction to unstable, dangerous circumstances.”

And for those who think that those raised in affluent families have it any easier, he adds this:

“Suniya Luthar, a professor of psychology at Arizona State University who has studied distress and resilience in both well-off and disadvantaged teenagers, has found that privileged youths are among the most emotionally distressed young people in America.”

Not surprisingly, one thing that ties all young people together – rich and poor – is the anxiety brought on by social media. As one college student put it, “I don’t think we realize how much it’s affecting our moods and personalities. Social media is a tool, but it’s become this thing that we can’t live without but that’s making us crazy.”

It’s disconcerting to learn how so many men and women, boys and girls, suffer from anxiety to the point that they shut down. When I was living in Korea, a lot of the people I knew from other countries would dismiss the heightened state of anxiety there as “Koreanness,” what was euphemistically called a “bballi, bbaali (quickly, quickly)” culture. But it’s not unique to Korea, nor does it only affect teenagers fighting to get into university.

It would seem that many of us are having a tough go of it in modern society. However, according to the article, there are certain things we can do to alleviate the pressure. While these activities are sometimes easier said than done, they include mindfulness techniques, art and equine therapy, and exposure therapy (facing your fears).

I can’t speak for everyone, but I know that when stress/anxiety starts building in my life, the best thing I can do is unplug from social media and, even more importantly, sit down and read a book. That one single act, I think, is the cheapest, quickest and most effective way to mollify the Demons of Angst and Anxiousness.

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized