I keep getting notices in the mail from my insurance informing me that I can save time and energy by not bothering to go to a clinic when I am sick. I can just call up Teladoc. Right! If I want someone to just guess what may be wrong, I can call my sister. I hear there are also virtual clinics. I will want a virtual doctor when I have a virtual illness. If I am sick or hurting somewhere in this flesh-and-bone body, I want a flesh-and-bone doctor to see me, take my temperature, get a blood sample maybe, pat my arm, or say, “Does this hurt?” Or all of that.
I have not used the Teladoc service, so I can’t say it is good or bad; I just know I don’t want it. I know from experience that appendicitis can feel a lot like a stomach virus. How can a doctor on my phone or a website tell the difference without ever seeing me?
And think of this. What if it’s the first step to replacing real doctors with robots, and even then you don’t actually get to go into a clinic and see your primary robot. You can get a RoboMed app for your smart phone. I don’t want to pick up my phone and say, “Hey, Robodoc, I have a pain in my right leg. What’s up with that?” Robodoc may diagnose me with bone cancer when I actually have a torn meniscus. Or vice versa.
Now, I have admitted—right on this platform, in fact—that I have technophobic tendencies. I think my phone is eavesdropping and my computer is spying. Microwaves may be frying my brain and even electricity may be short circuiting my physiological wiring. I openly proclaim that I want to go back to a phone on the wall with an answering machine. A cell phone where you can be found anywhere is just an electronic cowbell. I don’t want to be called when I am in the produce aisle, or the toilet. At most, a cell phone should be an emergency device when you are on a trip. A pre-paid flip phone would work for that. I have a road atlas; I don’t need GPS on my phone. Besides, my car is already equipped with enough “helpful” devices to get me where I need to go, call emergency services, spy on me, and play my favorite music.
While I am on this soapbox, I will go further. We are a nation–maybe a world—of people who think everything should be instant and easy. I saw a sign proclaiming a drive-through window to pick up ashes for Ash Wednesday. Really? Maybe we should just do away with churches altogether and have a Salvation App for the fundamentalists, ConfessaPhone for the Catholics, and WatchtowerWeb for Jehovah’s Witnesses. We already have Amazon for shopping, and Waitr and GrubHub for meals. Folks who can telecommute for work need never leave home at all. Ever. If they miss their friends or family, they can just Skype or FaceTime. Is it just me, or is this an unhealthy path we are on?
I am protesting. I am going to unplug my microwave, go grocery shopping, pop in at a chapel, visit a friend face to face, eat at a restaurant, then stop and make an appointment with a doctor, any doctor. My cell phone is not going with me. And tonight I am reading a bona fide hard-cover book instead of streaming four episodes of Grace and Frankie.