Something has Come Between Us
I am fascinated with technology. The immediate availability of information enthralls me. My iPhone is a constant companion. My company does amazing work with website development.
At the same time, I mourn for the toll that technology is taking on face-to-face relationships. Too often I find myself in the presence of those who are distracted by some piece of technology that is buzzing or binging or demanding their attention in some other way.
The cashier at the store has one eye on her Blackberry as she attempts to assist me with my purchases. People walk down the street looking at the device in their hand rather than the sidewalk beneath their feet. Hands under the table at a meeting are sure to mean some side conversation is underway – frequently with other people in the same room.
There was some controversy in Danvers, Massachussets a few months ago when the chairman of the town’s Board of Selectmen ordered members to stop using Smartphones during town meetings. One of the members protested on the basis that he would be temporarily out of touch with baseball scores. That an elected official would prioritize immediate access to baseball scores over paying attention to his constituents is surely cause for a raised eyebrow of concern.
Another place where technology may be unwelcome is in your doctor’s office. The emergence of electronic medical records (EMR) mean that some physicians are bringing a laptop or other device into the exam room in place of the usual paper medical chart. While this is surely a boon to the accuracy and portability of medical records, the introduction of this third party – albeit a mostly inanimate one – can dramatically shift the dynamics of the doctor patient relationship. If the computer is used merely as a replacement for the paper record and the doctor is able to continue to focus on the patient, that is one thing.
But if he starts checking the baseball scores while I am sitting there in the ever-stylish paper gown, I am calling for a cab on my iPhone and leaving.