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Living the Jetson Life

LIVING THE JETSON LIFE: I first watched the Jetson’s TV cartoon in 1962. The George Jetson family lived in Orbit City—wife Jane, daughter Judy, son Elroy, and dog Astro. Rosie was the robot maid. M and I would chuckle when modern-day advances began to mirror the comedic futuristic devices portrayed in the cartoon.

The Jetsons had the ability to video chat on their phones. Jane Jetson had a mask that she would hold up to hide her face if she was contacted at an inopportune time similar to how people hide their backgrounds on Zoom calls today. Rosie did the housework; today we have robotic vacuum cleaners and floor washers. George’s car was totally automated and able to fly; we have not yet crossed that latter threshold.

I’ve accepted our modern-day technological advancements with aplomb—until yesterday. Yesterday, I was a new patient at a dermatology clinic near my home. I needed to have a keratosis removed. I had registered online taking pictures of my insurance card and driver’s license. That was fine; I’ve done preregistrations online before. I received a call telling me that this office had a remote receptionist. I did not make note of the word “remote.” I thought there would be a receptionist and also a computerized kiosk where I would enter my information. I was wrong on that assumption and when I arrived at the clinic, I entered a whole new dimension.

The receptionist was indeed remote. When I walked in, I heard a voice inquire, “May I help you?” I looked around. Who was talking to me? I navigated towards the tablet, and there she was—on the screen. I laughed through most of the interview. She must have thought I was crazy, but I just couldn’t believe it. No live person, just a screen. When we finished, I was told to take a seat, and someone would call me.

It wasn’t long before a person came to get me. Ah, I thought, we are back to normal. When I entered the exam room, the person said that she (I can’t remember her name) would help me. I looked around. Where was she? You guessed it—another remote worker on a screen. She asked me about the keratosis on my back. That’s when I got confused. I wasn’t sure if she was going to look at it and assess it. When she told me to put on a gown, I said, “Wait a minute, are you staying in the room?” She said, “yes,” but I could use the privacy switch on the top of the screen to block her. Actually, she was the one to switch the screen to selfie mode, but I still changed in the corner of the room away from the camera.

The P.A. came in and froze the keratosis. She was personable and professional, did what she needed to do and left. I stood there alone, looked at the screen, which was still in selfie mode, changed and left. There was no one in the waiting room save for the screen with the remote worker. It was all so odd.

Would I go back to that clinic? I would for quick visits, but not if I thought I had anything seriously wrong. I understand that health care is changing. I understand that using remote workers and technology reduces costs and redundancy. I understand that, as a society, we are becoming increasingly digitized. I understand that A.I. will replace even more workers, and we will experience less and less human-to-human interaction. I understand that a day will come when people become more isolated and socially inept as we lose our humanness.

When I was a kid, I thought it would be great to live like the Jetsons. They made it look like so much fun! The truth is, it isn’t fun. It is concerning, and it’s downright scary.

1 Comments on “Living the Jetson Life

  1. Oof. I wouldn’t have liked it at all. I need human interactions, which is why I never use self checkouts, even if the line is so long. Actually, rhis is pretty unsettling.

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