When Love Hurts:

Learning from the Love Bug


Michelle M. Weil, Ph.D.

Human-Ware, LLC

CARLSBAD, CA -- Millions were bitten by the "Love Bug." Those who opened the message did so from soft places in their hearts that had been psychologically "readied" for the reception of tenderness. A secret admirer, perhaps? A love note from a friend? Certainly something to look forward to with a smile.

Then they were emotionally slammed. From vulnerability, to shock, to the beginnings of panic and ultimately to problem-solving and damage control, people's emotional states shifted rapidly.

Like any unexpected trauma, the internal and external shock-waves take time to settle down. From thinking you were receiving kindness to realizing you wrought havoc to others important to you - for who else is in your address books than those who matter personally and professionally? - is a difficult psychological shift. It takes time to process. For those who opened the attachment came shame, humiliation, feelings of stupidity, or being fooled. Unfortunately, there was also blame. Somehow you should have known better!

Nonsense! Nobody could have known better. This is all too new. As technology advances, so do the ways it can be misused. We were all "bitten," whether or not we received the message and did or did not open it. We hurt for those affected, and empathize with their confusion, panic and stress.

One of the extraordinary positive experiences from this attack was the immediate and global support and outpouring of information, sent from one person to the next, to the next. As companies alerted their employees, these people, in turn, alerted others. All throughout the day, messages of what to do and not to do were flying across the Internet. Perhaps even faster than the bug spread, so did the love. The real kind!

So, let's grow from the experience. It is the best way to empower ourselves and rise above something painful. With this latest example of societal TechnoStress, here's what we can do:

The promise of technology is to make our lives easier. And in many ways, it does. There will always be more value to technology than not, but some of the "naughty" times won't feel very good. So, do what you can to guard your hardware and protect your software, but most of all, remember to preserve your Human-Ware.

© 2000 Michelle M. Weil, Ph.D.

Dr. Michelle Weil, consultant, keynote speaker and author, is an expert in the "Psychology of Technology" and heads the consulting firm Human-Ware, LLC. For further information contact www.human-ware.com