The striking photo of a platinum-like tooth brush against a black background got my attention. I confess to a near neurotic interest in the care of my teeth, no doubt due to my childhood experience. My straight teeth seemed to be the one thing about me that adults could find to compliment. As a result I am a very responsible cleaner of my teeth.
So with that in mind, I started to read the fine print of the ad. The first line put me over the edge about something I have been thinking about for a long time. The line read — “(product’s brand) latest electric tooth brush connects to the (product’s brand) app on your smartphone … You’ll get real-time feedback on your brushing.”
I am sure my mouth fell open in wonderment. Do human beings need an app to tell them how to brush their teeth? Maybe once, but every day? Do parents relinquish their teaching hygiene responsibilities to an app? I keep thinking that we might as well have apps instead of brains. Who needs a brain when cars drive themselves and apps tell us how to brush our teeth. Indeed, the whole thing makes me grumpy.
Then I remembered that I am an old fogy who is looking at new lifestyles through the eyes of a retiring generation. I might feel differently if apps actually did some of the ever-increasing body maintenance tasks — you know like lubricating just about everything and exercising every muscle and joint — instead of telling me to do more.
I am not a complete electronic Neanderthal; I have one app, at least I think it’s an app. I do Internet searches frequently to support my consulting projects and my writing, so I understand and appreciate the value of having information handy. I am thrilled to live in a time that offers such access to knowledge and think the people who created GPS should get the Nobel Peace Prize.
Intersection of enough and too much
Where the lines cross for me is when we come to rely on the app instead of our own analysis and when the use of apps replaces our personal interactions and learning opportunities with others. I also harbor a slight suspicion that apps are habit-forming, or worse case, so addictive that we drain time by checking them throughout the day.
We see it every day out on the sidewalks of Sequim – people, young and old, with eyes set on reading their smartphone messages. Most of us joke that smartphones are smarter than we are. I don’t know but I think smartphones will at least survive longer. Smartphones will advance into technological perfection and humans will advance to technological wizards with small brains if the race isn’t wiped out by smartphone-occupied human beings stepping in front of driverless cars.
The evolved human being app
Still, I have great faith in human adaptability but wonder how humans will evolve in this highly technical environment. Here is my latest fantasy about advanced human beings of the future.
Humans will be even more sedentary and as a result shorter mostly due to having shorter legs. Legs will not be needed as much because robots will be doing most of the manual work at home, at work and in the fields.
Alas, legs will continue to shorten and the trend toward rounder torsos will accelerate. The market will accommodate the changes by developing super carts that humans can ride through widened store aisles. Alternatively, most shopping may be done online and delivered by drones to the exact spot new owners wish them placed which, of course means less walking. Humans could actually live without seeing another person for months.
Human fingers will be quite long and elegant due to the ever-increasing need to communicate through our fingers onto the keyboard, screen or new device. Human hands will be revered and great care will be given them.
Alternatively, humans may do everything through voice recognition which will result in little evolutionary change since humans will talk less voice to voice.
My final prediction is that human eyes will become keener and slightly bulbous to accommodate all the checking and rechecking.
Keeping the faith
Don’t believe me? I don’t blame you; it’s not a pretty picture except the hand part. I have to have faith that humans will modify destructive trends, especially those that weaken us.
If that isn’t incentive enough, I believe people will begin to monitor the time they spend on app gadgets as soon as they realize their kids are being raised by apps. Besides, coinciding with the app explosion is the explosion of fitness devices that will report to you just how well you are nourishing and exercising your body.
That’s the app I have. I have the simplest version of a Fitbit and retrieve my data through my computer. This app gadget I call an electronic version of a personal trainer has helped me make important changes for my health.
So this old fogy can adapt somewhat, but don’t expect too much. Time is precious and I don’t want to spend the time turning my lifestyle inside out.
And I certainly don’t want an app telling me how to brush my teeth; been there, done that with a mother.
Bertha D. Cooper is retired from a 40-plus year career as a health care administrator focusing on the delivery system as a whole. She still does occasional consulting. She is a featured columnist at the Sequim Gazette. Reach her at email@example.com.