It struck me today that the world needs a new word. What kicked it off was remembering the trouble that my car’s GPS caused me when it insisted that the address I wanted to go to didn’t exist [1]. And that spurred thoughts of all of the times that technology has let me down and the realization that most of the times it has been when I relied on the technology [2]. And that led to a reflection on all of the words that we have for specialized occurrences and the realization that if there is a word for this [3], I don’t know it.

I have therefore invented one: techschmertz – the feeling that you get when your technology fails to work. As with weltschmertz, the feeling is hideously complex, with elements of sadness, frustration, and “well, that wasn’t so bad”. Unlike weltschmertz, having another beer rarely helps. Fortunately, techschmertz is relatively easy to fix; all you have to do is find something that the technology will help you with or find another technology to play with for a bit [4].

So that feeling you get when your watch battery quits just as you look at the time? Techschmertz. That ineffable feeling of woe when your computer loses all your files? Techschmertz. That indescribable annoyance when your car stops clicking just as you pull into the mechanic’s? Techschmertz. That insufferable bundle of grr in your chest when your Google search refuses to return that site you found yesterday? Techschmertz. And, above all, the next time that your technological cookie crumbles, just remember that the techschmertz you are feeling is only temporary.


[1] The address one block before? Yes. The one a block later? Sure thing. The exact address where I wanted to go? No way, Jose.

[2] Which is one reason that I still add things up by hand and look at paper maps from time to time; if the technology went away, then I’d still be able to function as well as I do now (i.e., not at all).

[3] The Greeks undoubtedly have a word for it, at least if it involves some types of technology.

[4] My favorite technology to play with is the oven.


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