Everything is amazing - and nobody's happy
March 1, 2009

Via David Airey, via swissmiss. Seriously, listen to this ... give it a think:

He's got more than just a little point here. We can do absolutely amazing things today and it hasn't made us as a society any happier ... it's just made us demand more and demand that things work constantly and without interruption at the same time wanting services and products to be cheap. And fast, can't forget it has to be fast. We don't want to wait any more than we absolutely have to ...

And that's led to a lot of problems.

Take a dear friend of mine as an example. I'll call her "Donna." Donna owns her own small business, doing what she loves. Unlike most people, this means she has some flexibility in work hours, vacation time and so forth. It also means that she can't really take a sick day without serious consequences. So, when she started feeling badly, she put off going to the doctor ... not just because taking a sick day means losing a day's business completely (and trying to reschedule clients' missed appointments means working long, long hours before she feels 100% better) ... but because she also can't afford health insurance since she owns her own very small business.

She got quite ill with a staph infection, was forced to take some time off work and then got better slowly. And then had what she thought was a relapse. She could feel pressure in her head, just behind her left ear and the doctor told her there was nothing there. It built up and built up and still the doctor did nothing and insisted nothing was wrong.

The doctor did this partly because the symptoms she described didn't make sense and partly because the doctor assumed that without health insurance Donna would not want to run expensive tests (that the doctor was sure would all be pointless anyway). Obviously, Donna was just a whiner.

Let me tell you now, Donna's tolerance for pain rivals mine (remember I broke both bones in the lower half of my leg and I thought it was "just a sprain"?). A whiner and hypochondriac she ain't.

Two years go by. TWO YEARS. Constant pain, headaches, neckaches. It's all she can do to force herself to go to work and yet she also takes on a part-time job to try to help pay for all these pointless doctor visits.

How does this relate to our need to demand more, demand things work constantly without interruption, cheaply and fast?

Because we have become a culture of speed and results, we tend to only look at symptoms and not causes. The battery on your car went out? We'll just replace it. Why did it go out? Eh, who knows, just replace it and look it works. But then it goes out again a few months later. Eh, just replace it.

If you take the time to find out why it keeps going out, you will fix the car for a longer amount of time and probably save yourself a serious breakdown issue later on.

It turns out that because the doctors ... there were several over the course of the past two years, many of them specialists of one kind or another ... someone finally listened to everything she said. Instead of focusing on "my head hurts and it's debilitating," the doctor asked a series of questions and Donna gave out the same symptoms she'd been giving out but now thought couldn't be related since no other doctor had put them together. Each doctor she'd been to prolonged the diagnostic process because they only heard selected bits and tried to treat a couple of symptoms.

Had they really taken the time to look and listen to her, they'd have quickly discovered the discs in her neck were screwed up. (If I remember correctly, one is blown and another is bulging.) Bad discs in the neck are well-known to cause headaches. Just think about a time when you've had a lot of tension in your neck ... the muscles tighten and tighten and the pain eventually travels up to the head.

However the first doctor was positive that since she'd had a sinus infection which caused a headache once before, obviously that was the problem ... the fastest diagnosis based on symptom.

But that is so incredibly short-sighted.

Yes, we do live in incredible times where we can get from New York to California in a day when it used to take three or four months.

But we're so used to the speed now that I'm not sure we take the time to marvel at that fact instead of the fact that we're about to miss the mixer for our 20 year high school reunion. (Okay, so that's my dig at myself.) We're so caught up in the N O W ... that we forget the good things about waiting and about taking our time.

Sure, if I'm in a car wreck, I want the fastest ambulance to come and help me. But would I rather wait for the mechanic to truly fix my car ... or just getting it running so I can make it to work almost on time? Why should I waste materials getting battery after battery installed in my car? Doesn't it make more sense to discover that the alternator needs repair in order to keep the battery charged? Yes, it's more expensive to fix the alternator than to buy a single new battery. Yes, it will take more time than swinging by Auto Zone and snagging a new battery. But it will actually fix the problem instead of patching up the symptom.
(Yes, that's a simplistic car issue. Yes, it could be other things. Work with me here, you get the idea, right?)

This applies to so many things in our lives. Take some time today to marvel at what we can do. Just arriving at work is a marvel for many of us. And what we do for a living? Think about how awesome it is to use email to communicate with someone who used to be 90 days away from you.

Posted by Red Monkey at March 1, 2009 9:21 AM | Never Underestimate the Power of Human Stupidity | Struggles | | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble |


Momo Fali said:

Well, isn't this a hefty piece of brilliance! Absolutely, 100% true. Along the same lines...getting back what you put out...also known as karma. My rushing and doing things half-ass will come back to me when someone working on my car, or repairing my roof, or ringing up my groceries, doesn't pay attention and does something that will be to my detriment.

March 5, 2009 5:02 PM
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