Don’t get me wrong, I really love my iPhone. I love most all things Apple. We are a 4 iPhone family and are proud owners of an iPod, iPad, iMac and I am happily typing on my new MacBook Pro. But when do we own the technology and when does it begin to own us? We went out to dinner last night. It was the first night of “Foodie Fest” and we wanted to try a new place (Breakers – and it was excellent). It was packed but we didn’t have reservations so we ate at the bar. Everyone around was engrossed in their iPhone.
But who am I to complain? I have 102 apps on my 4s. Is that too many, or not enough?
I need my iPhone for work. The old days of doctors carrying beepers are gone and the Blackberries that replaced them have morphed into iPhones. One day last week I forgot my phone when I went to work and had to make do without it. It was really amazing how much it lowered my stress level. This wouldn’t work everyday but it was a telling indication of how easily technology can change from serving to enslaving. I feel I was more effective and attentive to my patients and because I was less stressed was more relaxed and less irritable.
Technology in the clinical setting has great potential for improving medical care. But it also has had a corrosive effect on the human interaction between doctor and patient. Computers in the exam room are a fact of life. With enough practice it is possible to maintain reasonable eye contact while touch typing if the exam room is well designed. Mousing requires careful attention to the screen and is a different matter altogether. And the phone is even worse.
I am forced to admit the limit of my attention. Unlike modern computer processors my brain works effectively on only one thing at a time.
If I am truly present for my iPhone or any other technology what…and who… am I not present for?
Thanks for reading,