Steve Jobs famously said, “The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.” We are only now beginning to understand to what degree the digital revolution that he inspired has changed the world.
The New World
- Middle Eastern dictators fell like ten pins after their suppressed populations somehow got their hands on cell phones and began to communicate their distemper.
- School children need not attend classes because, after all, they’re carrying around everything they will ever need to know in their pockets. They might even teach their teacher a thing or two about how to use a cellphone.
- Office workers would rather just skip the commute and work at their local Starbucks. Millions of square feet of urban office space echoes with their absence. Cities have become an endangered species. Interacting with colleagues is anachronistic.
- Doctors no longer dispense medical advice to patients, but rather spend office hours debating their advice with an army of Dr. Googles.
- Friendships are frayed and cliques are formed without schoolmates ever meeting face-to-face.
- Amazon has perfected the art of instant gratification and dispensed with “brick and mortar” retail almost overnight.
- Bound books are buggy whips.
- Texting has eliminated body language communication - “Are you sincere when you say you love me?” - unless you’re “Zooming” you will never know.
The list of changes could go on, it seems, forever. Suffice to say that never in human history has the normal functioning of the human psyche been so assaulted in such a short period of time. In the span of one generation, the human mind has been transformed from analog to digital. We no longer think, act, or interact in the way we did just ten years ago. How we learn, how we communicate, how we govern, and how we commerce has been dramatically altered by the digital revolution.
Experienced adults can no longer offer guidance to newly minted adults. Seven-year-olds now look at their grandfathers with wry smiles as they correct the old man’s stumbling efforts to get on the internet. Children have become the adults, and adults have become the children. Students have become the teachers. Teachers have become the students. Patients have become the doctors. Doctors have become the patients. Friends are suddenly enemies. Close family members have become distant relatives. Role confusion has become a nationwide disorder.
Case Workers Overwhelmed
Case workers in every area of social work are overwhelmed with clients suffering from a sort of nonspecific psychic fog. Whether you work with children or the elderly or recovering addicts or ex-convicts trying to re-enter society, everyone seems to have lost their footing. Case workers report a growing free-floating anxiety that manifests as anger. Most still have problems specific to their circumstance, but almost all clients regardless of their circumstance are suffering from confusion about their proper role and the anxiety that accompanies that confusion.
First Things First
Case workers are beginning to recognize the symptoms and pull back to neutral ground before addressing the specifics of a client’s circumstances.
- They are referring clients to therapists if they detect free-floating anxiety in the client’s initial interview.
- Some more severe cases require the attention of a medical doctor and medication.
- Many clients need help understanding technology and how to use it to their best advantage.
- Often a face-to-face interview is a client’s first opportunity to ask a real live human being for help.
- Active listening seems to be the best medicine.
Where Have All the Flowers Gone?
People are lonely, confused, and frightened. Even case workers are treading new ground, and no one is sure where this brave new world is taking us. People miss the comfort of familiar surroundings and patterns of behavior. Everyone seems to be asking…
Where have all the flowers gone?