"When you get those rare moments of clarity, those flashes when the universe makes sense, you try desperately to hold on to them. They are the life boats for the darker times, when the vastness of it all, the incomprehensible nature of life is completely illusive. So the question becomes, or should have been all a long... What would you do if you knew you only had one day, or one week, or one month to live. What life boat would you grab on to? What secret would you tell? What band would you see? What person would you declare your love to? What wish would you fulfill? What exotic locale would you fly to for coffee? What book would you write?"

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Technology: Is it Rewiring Our Sense of Communication?

I picked an article called "Getting 'Disconnected' is Next to impossible" and it reached me in a lot of ways; I found it very interesting. First off, the article is written by a weekly columnist in my home newspaper, Leonard Pitts, and is about how because of cell phones advanced technology nowadays, it is nearly impossible to disconnect from our society. Not only cell phones, but credit cards, GPS, cameras, ATMs, email, facebook, subway cards, EZ Pass' all connect us to a world to a point where we can always be tracked, always be found. Even Ipods nowadays can connect to the internet from anywhere. More and more restaurants, even my local laundry mat has free wi-fi available now. The interesting part is, most of us at this point in time no longer want to be disconnected. Despite us having cell phone's for ten years, and heavy use of them within the last five years, if we lose our cell phone or forget it at home, it turns into a major daily crisis. And we all know that's true! Forgetting it at home, despite having an hour drive to work, class, etc., some people would find it acceptable to turn back to get it. How is it possible to survive the day without being in touch? What if people worried about you all day because you weren't answering? How would you arrange meetings, friend or business? We forget that not too long ago this would have sounded completely absurd. If you forgot it on a business trip that lasted over a week, most people would probably consider if not actually buy a new phone. Quote the columnist who did forget it at home on his business trip, "Had I found myself standing there in my underdrawers, I don't think I'd have felt more naked. There was this panicky sense of isolation, this disconcerting feeling of being cut off. Whenever I confessed my plight, I got looks of stark pity like you'd give someone with a terminal disease."

Has technology actually developed the power to control our lives like this? Has technology "utterly rewired our sense of what it means to be in touch?" Are we losing a sense of real human communication face to face, or just moving into new sense of communication that is natural in the "future"? What will our future be like if this is what it is now? Will we even have to talk to each other? Will you be able to have a complete conversation with your friend in person without speaking? Even today we can see each other from a hundred thousand miles away through web cams. We can talk to soldiers that we love… So is this a bad thing? I don't think so. I think its just a new thing. The people that disagree are the people that are too used to a non-technologic world where you walked to your friend's house to see if she wanted to grab lunch instead of texted them. However, I am seeing more and more people over the age of 65 now that are very much able to use their cell phone fluently. My own grandmother already has a facebook page and she is 75!

So how does this relate to nursing? How can this be an advantage or disadvantage to nursing? Does this type of communication have any right to enter the world of nursing? IPods nowadays can download applications that can help nurses make correct IV calculations. They have ones that have a complete drug guide installed. You can download textbooks to these, install a Spanish translation (among other languages) to these devices specifically for nurses to use. You can download a database that has thousands of diseases saved that can be identified if you punch in a couple symptoms…Is this OK? Is it a major disadvantage to be using this small device that patients may mistake to be a cell phone in front of them? Can we rely on these calculations made by these devices for accurate IV doses? Or are they even more reliable and accurate then our human brain?

Something to think about. Nurses nowadays are constantly being told to turn off their cell phones in hospitals, as well as patients, patient's families, etc. But who actually has the willpower to do so and not turn it back on? Particularly when you are working a 12 hour shift? Most nurses have their cell phone somewhere on their body, and it is usually turned on. Movies always ask for you to turn your phone off, as well as the theaters, airplanes, because it affects speakers and technology. But they are actually making speakers that won't be affected by the cell phone interference now because everyone knows you can't ask an entire audience or airplane to turn off your cell phone.

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