In the past week, I’ve run across a few articles about how robot caregivers are making a huge difference in the lives of our senior citizens. Facilities in Japan and Germany are using the robots to interact with the elderly. The robots challenge senior citizens with memory games and bring food and drinks to residents.
Any why not? One look at a sidewalk, restaurant, bus, or shopping mall will show you that we’ve already lost the ability to look each other in the eye and hold a normal conversation. The best of friends will sit at a table and text each other. (We’ve all seen it. (or would have, if we’d looked up from our phones)) People will sit on each side of the same desk and IM each other. Kids sit in the backs of cars as parents drive them around and all stare at their phones, missing everything around them.
I think we’d rather take a picture of our dinner and post it on Facebook than invite someone to dine with us and see the food live.
When we had our first child, I called all of my close friends to share the news and talk about the experience. I’m now on the fifth case of a good friend of mine having a child that I didn’t even know about because, instead of calling, they just posted it on Facebook. Many of their 900 closest friends saw it and got to write their own version of the same congratulatory comment to them. But I missed it because I didn’t check on their Facebook page.
So why would our care for the elderly be any different. These our the parents of our parents. These are our grandparents. These people lived dynamic and unique lives, seeing things we’ll never see. They have stories and lessons we can never imagine. Our elderly are collectively one of our society’s greatest resources.
But thanks to technology, making the world smaller and bringing us closer every day, we’re just going to send in the robots to keep our seniors company in their final days. Because making eye contact, having meaningful conversations, and showing genuine care for another is not a job humans want to do anymore.
And why would we? It might distract us from our phones and tablets.
I realize the Bubbler is also a digital product, but the intent is to give readers something to react to, think about, and discuss with others. If I could come over to your house and tell you this in person, I’d do it in a second.
If we lose the art of personal, human conversation, we’ve lost everything. Perhaps we could find someone to practice on, like someone in a elderly home?