There are many experiences my children will never have, most of which they will never miss.
New technology rolls in like waves on the beach. Telephones replaced telegraphs. Televisions replaced radios. Cell phones and computers replaced all of the above. Of course, that’s oversimplifying.
But what is undeniably true is that future generations are unlikely to know what it’s like to call a doctor’s office and have a real person answer the phone.
They will provide medical information electronically and get their test results the same way. They will see a doctor, if they’re lucky. They might be shuffled to a physician’s assistant or referred to a nurse “hotline.”
They will schedule appointments by clicking a box and will probably never mail a payment in their lives. In fact, they might be stumped if they had to buy a stamp, address an envelope, write a check.
And since they will never have known differently, they will be fine.
But those of us who have lived more than a handful of decades miss the more personalized service of years past. We get frustrated with trying to outsmart automated answering systems. We push 0 and yell “customer service” at the computers that have replaced humans.
We cherish the medical professionals who actually know who we are and don’t have to look at their iPads to discuss our medical history. And there are still some of those left.
Our children think our frustration is funny. During a recent malfunction requiring me to call and try, against all odds, to reach a human being, my daughter told me that she’d heard all you have to do is use a certain expletive to automatically reach an operator. Yes, I tried it. It didn’t work.
Looking back, I remember my parents having similar frustrations with the world as it changed.
They had grown up without television and relied almost exclusively on snail mail for communication with anyone who didn’t live right down the street. A generation of World War II couples went months and sometimes years without hearing each other’s voices. Their relationships survived, in many ways more successfully than today’s couples who can be in near constant contact, even when thousands of miles divide them.
By the time I was born, homes had multiple phones, and long-distance calls, while expensive, were commonplace.
Was life better with less technology? Probably not. But at least if you wanted to tell someone about it, all you had to do was pick up the phone.
Managing Editor Wendy Victora can be reached at 315-4478 or email@example.com
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