Mixed Feelings on Tech

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For a long time, I was skeptical, even critical, of technological progress. I saw cars taking over the landscape and polluting the air. I saw people turning into Kewpie dolls in front of their TV sets. I saw countries’ wealth and brain power devoted to inventing ever more awful weapons.

In short, I was a real killjoy about technology. And now I’m totally dependent on it. All my work depends on the Internet and computers. Most of my connection with the world is by telephone and computer, too.

Just as important is my mobility scooter. I couldn’t leave the apartment without it. Without modern technology, most of it developed quite recently, I would be isolated, dependent on family to keep me going.

That got me to thinking about other helpful technology, like blood glucose meters and insulin pumps. How much of a difference have these devices made in your life? How much does being able to check your blood glucose help you? What other technology has really had an impact on you?

I’m glad I have my scooter, but I sure hate needing it. Because when you rely on technology, you are really in trouble when it breaks down. Right now I’m getting ready to go to Louisiana and Alaska to speak, and my scooter is on the fritz. The battery runs down so fast that I really don’t want to have to go more than a couple of blocks. I’m not feeling safe about the trip, and I’m not sure what I’m going to do about it.

And what about you? What happens when your pump breaks down? Do you worry about malfunctions or about glucose meters giving wrong results?

I don’t like being dependent on machines, but pretty much everyone is, not just people with health conditions. If you need a car to get to work or obtain food, you know what I’m talking about. People think they’re mobile even though they never walk a block.

I just wish all these technological wonders were sustainable. But probably they’re not. Look at food. Some scientist discovered how nitrogen helps plants grow, and when oil was discovered, some chemists found that it was full of nitrogen. Then technology took over and created fertilizers and the other agricultural chemicals that help grow all this wheat, corn, and sugar that we eat.

Now we’re almost literally eating oil. The stored energy of millions of years is being dug up, turned into food, and fed to us. It’s nice to have all that food. It’s enabled world population to triple in 100 years. We probably wouldn’t have Iron Chefs or a Food Network without it.

But it’s making us sick. It’s leading to overfarming and destruction of cropland. And it’s not sustainable. The oil will run out, and even if it doesn’t, our soaring population will run out of water or other necessities. No species can expand forever, not even a technological one.

I guess I’m like everyone else. I want to have a fulfilling life, and technology helps me. I couldn’t give it up if I wanted to. If I had to give it up, I wouldn’t last long. Does that make it right? I don’t know.

How technological are you? If you are dependent on technology, how do you feel about that? Are there things you could do without, or new technologies you are hoping to see in your lifetime? Are you in line for an artificial pancreas or an islet cell transplant? How has technology changed your relationship with diabetes? Your life?

Check out my new column on dealing with lows in the context of sex.

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