Is it true that graveyards are filled with indispensable men? Can compassion, companionship and a sense of belonging be outsourced to inanimate objects? Do people really need others or is that just a myth that belonged to another generation and another time? Obviously social media and electronic forums of communication have transformed relational paradigms in our society. However, those connections build on the fabric of personal communication and connection. Do people still need people?
Today’s world is a very different from the one of my childhood, adolescence, young- adulthood and even (I say this reluctantly) adulthood. For all practical purposes, I am a senior citizen. Is it possible that in my lifetime that we will mistakenly denigrate the importance of those with whom we share life
John Ortberg writes: “Everything keeps changing. In the time it took infants to become adolescents we all got cell phones and iPods and GPS’s and TiVo’s. The economy keeps changing. This is in a viral video called Did You Know? The top 10 in-demand jobs that will be around in 2010 did not exist in 2004, which means we’re preparing kids for jobs that do not yet exist, using technologies we have not yet invented. There was a day when people looked for steady jobs…50 years…retirement…gold watch…pension. No more. The U.S. Department of Labor estimates the average student will have 10 to 14 jobs…by the age of 38, by the time they’re 38 years old.
When it comes to high tech, my daughter and son-in-law get it. How many people do you know who have the ability to adjust the temperature on their home’s thermostat from anywhere in the world as long as they have internet capability? I’m not sure why they needed that feature, but it puts them way ahead of me when I wish the room were warmer before I get out of bed in the morning.
My daughter works long hours and she is most at home in the kitchen. She loves to cook. In fact, she is such a fan of fine dining and exquisite meals, she opted not to put a microwave in their new home. She didn’t want one. Crazy isn’t it? Who’s got the time to prepare a meal the old fashion way? She’d go hungry before she’d eat fast food or anything that didn’t come from Whole Foods.
So how does one cook and clean? There simply isn’t that many hours in the day. Well, my high tech daughter has it figured out. The new Roomba 880 Robot Vacuum features the revolutionary AeroForce™ Performance Cleaning System. Roomba 880 removes up to 50% more dirt, dust, hair and debris from all floor types. The tangle-free AeroForce™ Extractors are virtually maintenance-free, making it even easier for Roomba to tackle daily dirt build-up. Roomba 880 even cleans one room before moving on to the next for effortless, room-to-room cleaning.
Call me old school if you want to, but I much prefer the system we use in our home. The General (aka – my wife) vacuums the floors the old fashion way. With her German heritage, I can assure you that our home is always spotless and clean enough to eat off the floor. Of course, she’d provide a disclaimer that my office is no man’s land. She isn’t going to clean up after me. She’d call that enabling and she owes it to me to ensure I get it right.
Recently, my friend Dave mentioned in passing that robots are being developed to help with nursing home care. So many elderly patients live in virtual isolation from family and friends. Perhaps it is the out-of-sight/out-of-mind mentality of an “its-all-about me generation” that negates the any personal responsibility or familial responsibility for aging parents.
I have a friend whose son sent her a letter several years ago saying that he loved her and would always love her, but that he never wanted to see her again. Over the years, a number of extended family members have made him aware of his mother’s need for familial support, but he obviously is busy “doing the Lord’s work in the church that he leads” that he has no empathy or even a passing interest in her welfare or well-being.
How many people in nursing homes or extended care facilities have been put on the back-burner of importance because family members are too busy to care? They have their lives to live. God help those who helped them because they “owe it to themselves to be self-absorbed.”
A Google search yielded the following: “The number of elderly in the industrialized world is expected to grow significantly over the course of the next two decades. Alongside this growth in the elderly population, many nations, including the US and Japan, face short and long-term labor shortages in the healthcare sector. A number of projects in both countries have sought to address this perceived shortage by developing interactive robotic assistants to work in home and assisted-living environments.”
“The development of robotic creatures for senior care and research and its impact on senior life is being studied worldwide. For example, in Japan, Matsushita in 1999 created the robotic cat Tama, which looks like a plush toy but is networked to its owner’s health care service center, and is intended to be a companion to senior users. Tama responds happily when it is stroked, and speaks to its owner, sharing “encouraging messages” and reminders programmed by health care workers at a distance. In the United States, the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University launched a major collaborative research and development effort in this area, and have been testing their ‘nursebot,’ Pearl, at an assisted-living facility. InTouch Health has developed the mobile robot Companion to assist and interact with the elderly by putting providers and family members in direct contact with seniors through an interactive LCD screen as its ‘face’.”
Perhaps the graveyards are filled with the Indispensable. When God pronounced that it was not good for man to live alone, I don’t think robotic companionship is what he had in mind. If that is the best we can do, we are doomed.
All My Best