This is a true story.
Imagine you’re 93 years old and living in a nursing home. Your days run one into another with little diversion. As you sit in your chair, stories of your life play through your mind: your favorite song, your first kiss, your wedding day, your bowling team, the tragic death of your daughter and on and on and on.
One day a nurse brings you a fuzzy, white seal called Paro. He puts it on the table in front of you and says , “Pet it. Talk to it.” So you do, and as you do, Paro responds with soft purring noises. When you tell an exciting story, his purrs are fast and sound happy. When you share your sad stories his purrs are slow and sad and match your mood.
When the nurse comes back to collect Paro you say, “No way!” You’ve started to like this little robot. You know he’s not human, but he’s the first one in a long, long time who really listened to you.
The story made me sad. Have we come so far that we believe machines understand how we feel? Can the comfort from a small furry robot replace the touch of a human hand or a warm hug? What does it say about how we use and rely on technology? We’ve become dependent upon it. Remember the panic you felt the last time your computer crashed?
Three years ago TeleNav commissioned a national survey about smart phones that showed: •40% of iPhone users would give up their toothbrush before their iPhone
•83% of iPhone users believed that other iPhone users would make the best romantic partners
•46% of all respondents said they sleep with their phone next to them in bed
•30% of respondents said they’d rather give up sex for a week than give up their mobile phone.
Speaking of technology in medicine, today you can’t go into a hospital with without getting an MRI, a CAT scan, six X-rays and a battery of other tests.
Siri, the famous iPad assistant, can give you directions to the theater, counsel you on the best place to eat and suggest gifts to buy an angry lover.
Email once thought of as efficient and productive, has now become oppressive.
The point to all this technology talk is this. You can become enamored with new toys, faster computers, sexier phones and cooler games.
Or you can go outside in the sun and play catch with your child. Or go for a walk with your spouse. Or call an old friend and visit.
Don’t banish technology from your life, but don’t let it keep you from living a “real” life.