Tip/Thought of the Day

Do We Need To Change Our Relationship With Technology?

Have you ever thought computers are like a bad relationship?  Really, they’re wonderful when they work, and give us positive feedback, which is just enough to keep you interested. They’re exciting, exhilarating, and addicting. The whole world is at your fingertips – people, data, shopping, finances, books, and music. What more could one person want?

Then they crash, or it takes forever to load, or a page is constantly having to refresh and everything is shattered. You’re left stranded with nothing but anger, helplessness and frustration.

“It has to work again, I know it will.”

The question is, when? You try everything you can think of- coaxing, pleading, hoping, waiting. Then, if the computer gods decide to throw you a bone, voila- it’s up and running again. You forgive its temporary lapse and all is well with the world once again.

Until the next crash or issue.

And you know it will happen.  It’s part of what you expect, even anticipate. Its that very anticipation that keeps us anxious, knowing it could be anytime, for any reason. Something as simple as striking a comma instead of a semi- colon, a back slash instead of a forward one could take hours to recognize. And when it gets really bad, we bring in a specialist to help us communicate and deal with the issues.

I once spent 30 minutes trying to make a purchase while the page kept dropping, to then be told:

“Sorry for the inconvenience, we’re having trouble with our site. Please check back later.”

A phone call to a human being confirmed my purchase in 5 minutes!

Or maybe it’s just data overload and the constant need to stay connected, post, update Facebook, follow up on Tweets, Pinterest, emails, texts. It never ends.

Sound familiar? Why do we do this to ourselves, over and over and over? Is the thrill of those times we are happy, enjoying the blissful unhindered access technology provides worth the turmoil? Apparently, the answer is “yes,” since machines have insidiously invaded every aspect of our lives.

For example, have you noticed nothing comes with a manual anymore? It’s all online. But you have to be able to get online to read it! Some people actually prefer to text over the dinner table instead of speaking to each other. I have patients worried if their posts, status updates, and followers will attract attention. It never ends. There are too many sites and avenues to keep up with.

Yes, I’m showing my age. I understand that. For me, I spend 10-12 hours a day at the beck and call of my computer, praying it won’t stop in the middle of the day when I have labs to find, x-rays to look at, or patient records to access. Praying the internet or digital software won’t go down. When technology fails to function, so does my practice. I pray all the work I put into my posts aren’t lost or erased because I hit the wrong button or it failed to save. That they actually present as requested, sending people to the proper links and not into the ozone.

And when did we stop thinking about all this data circulating in the Internet? Our healthcare records, bank accounts, personal pictures, and communications. It used to be these were all filed away from prying eyes. Everything can be tracked, hacked or monitored by those who know how. Not me of course. I’m one of the plebs just trying to survive and thrilled when I can get what I need.

But our children are raised on this, it’s there platform. Will they have the same difficulties crossing those barriers? When did we grow so complacent that we started to except, even resign ourselves to this fate, believing we have no choice in the matter?

Like any relationship, there are always amazing highs that keep us tied to it. Then when it crashes, overwhelms us, or gives us an unfavorable response, we make excuses, hoping it’ll pass, telling ourselves we just have to wait it out or buy a better product. Anything to get our fix again. It strings us along with the hope and promise of great things to come. Just when we think we can’t take it anymore, we’re ready to throw in the towel, it’s seduces us with new bells and whistles. We’ve decided this is the way life should be, stuck in a never ending cycle of great ups and downs that we can never control and never really participate in.

As if this wasn’t enough, now the relationship has to be upgraded and re- learned every few months at great cost and energy. Just when the old one becomes comfortable, easy to understand and maneuver, it has to be replaced because it’s obsolete or no longer capable of interfacing with the newest software.

Are we ready to say “enough”? Shouldn’t we demand a better balance?  Maybe it’s time to remember what it’s like to write a letter not a brief text. Hold a newspaper while feeling and smelling the newsprint. Actually go to a store and try on the merchandise to see if it fits. How often do you return items you touched, looked at, and personally appraised, as opposed to a 2 dimensional representation?  Realize nobody really needs to know what we’re doing every minute of everyday.  Be a role model for our kids by putting technology down and making eye contact.

Computers are truly amazing but they’ve taken control of our lives. We need to take a few moments to shut down and turn off. Actually speak to someone. Socialize. Play outdoors and breathe in fresh air.

Of course, that’s after you read, like and share this post!

dsc_0323-1    –Dr. Courtney

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