Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Has society and our world become too complex for the majority of people living in it?

This post emerges out of a little frustration that I've been having with my aging parents. But that frustration got me to asking how other people who have even a little cognitive decline can manage to keep everything straight? Allow me to elaborate by example. My parents recently sold a plot of land in Idaho. In order to get the deal done, dad had to furnish the water rights that were issued forty years ago, and my dad has to get the original power of attorney that he did back in 2006 for my mom (who has dementia) because a copy won't do. The title company insists, "It has to be the original." I managed to find the water rights certificate, but getting a hold of the original power of attorney is going to be some effort considering that my dad stored documents in shoe boxes for years, and he's never been good at organization even when his mind was firing at 100%.

Just trusting someone's word that good enough is good enough "used" to work for people...you know, back in the seventies. Nowadays life is significantly more complicated. There are passwords for every single website out there, and you've got to have a different one and a different user name to give yourself better protection against hacks and fraud. I myself have about seventy passwords, and yes, they are all different. Sometimes I get confused and have to have them reset. It's driving me crazy.

What about tasks associated with daily living? When I see what it takes for my parents to get going (they don't have much energy these days) I realize that beyond getting out of bed and washing their bodies and feeding, they need to shop for their food, they need to know how to use the remote control that powers their satellite television, they need to know what time of year it is so that they can get taxes done, they need to get maintenance on their car, they need driver's licenses and picture I.D.'s renewed, they need to pay all the bills that come in, and the house needs cleaning. Of course we've hired help, but there are other duties on top of all this.

These days for the dog to get washed by a dog washer, it has to have certificates that say it is healthy and has all of its shots. This means an appointment has to be made with a veterinarian, certificates need to be collected, and they need to be stored in an area where they are readily retrievable to hand over to the damn dog washer. Whatever happened to the day when people would just wash your dog because it was dirty?

The car needs to be inspected once a year for certificates related to pollution and safety inspection. You need insurance on everything. Then there are doctor's appointments and filling out paperwork for medicare. Let's not forget that the furnace filters need to be changed, smoke detectors need new batteries, water softener needs salt, light bulbs need changing, clothes need to be washed, bedding needs to be changed, and drugs need to be picked up at the pharmacy.

Did the phone ring? Is someone trying to sell you something? Is it a robot auto-dialer asking for a survey only to bait and switch you to something else?

Honestly, I think that the world has become so complex that it is difficult to understand and many (particularly the aged) are vulnerable. Given the amount of time that all of the above tasks take to sort through, how can people take time to do any truth-seeking? How can we make intelligent decisions regarding policies, our retirements, or elect global leaders when life is already so complicated? Maybe that's why we're getting more and more people dropping out of the system either through disability or just becoming homeless. Just think for a moment of the problem-solving skills it takes to get a bank account, and you'll realize that any mental illness or cognitive decline poses huge roadblocks to becoming a productive member of society.

So I'm curious, do any of you out there think that society is unnecessarily complex? Or is it just me?

18 comments:

  1. No, it's not you. Funny how the more things that come along to make our life easier, the more it complicates things.
    I hope your father can find that original paper.

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  2. You've exhausted me. It really is no wonder some people are so tempted to go off the grid, eh? Or dive into some out of touch oblivion.

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  3. My uncle passed away over a month ago and so now his siblings are having to go through all his crap looking for deeds and all that for the will. Of course some people like me are too poor to have a bunch of complex assets and investments, which makes things easier.

    Anyway, your post makes me want to listen to "I Can't Get Behind That!" by Bill Shatner & Henry Rollins.

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  4. Completely agree with you Michael. Going through the same thing with my aging parents right now. They just got their identity stolen because some a-hole pretending to be from Windows scammed them over the phone. Of course, we know better, but they didn't. We had to close down all of their credit card accounts and redo everything for them at the bank and DMV.

    Even when taking them to the doctor's office, everything is computerized and it confuses them even more. They don't know how to use a tablet, but that's how you're expected to sign in at the doctor. I feel so bad for the elderly who don't have someone advocating for them, like our parents do. It really puts them at a disadvantage. Not convenient at all.

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  5. This is why we need AI. AI that will destroy us.

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  6. I am in the aging parent category, Michael, And thank you for helping your parents, please be patient. The tasks are monumental when you have little energy. The computer, IPhone can help, but can also be confusing, passwords, etc. Yes, the world is more complicated now. My husband is not driving now so it is all up to me, social secretary, etc. But here I am in the blog challenge, so I give myself some credit. And we are going through our stuff and getting rid of things like bikes, golf clubs, as much as we can.

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  7. I agree that our lives are unnecessarily complex. My phone has more memory and function than the computer in the spacecraft that landed on the moon. The last house I sold required a $12,000 fee for a piece of paper saying the oil tank buried in the backyard (decommissioned before I was born) wasn't a threat. Rules and regulations are everywhere. There are too many laws. I think there should be a fixed number; pass a new law, repeal an old one. And stop producing electronic crap we don't need, yet all-to-quickly get addicted to. It isn't just that our lives are too complicated, we're becoming alienated from each other, and that's the greatest tragedy.

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  8. Unfortunately, the reason for the complexity is all the people out there who want to take advantage of other people and, well, steal from them. If people were better beings, it wouldn't have to be the way it is.

    Speaking of passwords, I had to create a login on a site yesterday, and I already can't remember the password.

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  9. Yes. My youngest brother passed away recently and trying to take care of the 'strings' is a full time job for my older brother, my parents, and I. My parents struggle with basic things such as attaching documents to emails. With my brother no longer there to help them, it's frightful. So there, even death is complex beyond measure.

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  10. Honestly, I believe that being a productive member of society is far more difficult than it should be. And that's where every problem begins.

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  11. I think things are too complex for their own good. I've volunteered for stuff with fancy rules that didn't mater.

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  12. I think that's why aged parents used to live with their children and grandchildren. It's hard.

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  13. I'm so sorry the situation with your parents is getting more difficult. And yes, life is ridiculously more complex! Life in the 70's and even 809's was simpler, and all the technical conveniences we now life with in many ways makes life more complex.

    When I was younger there was no such thing as credit reporting companies, and now they exist only because some creeps figured out a way to make money by collecting information on people and selling it. A couple years ago I froze my credit reports for fear of identity theft. Two days ago I received a notice from my health care company telling me what I already knew: that it had been hacked and I should contact the credit reporting companies. Such things were unheard of when I was young.

    I could rant on, but then I'd be typing all night. I hope you can hang in there with your parents--you're a good son, Mike, and I wish you well.

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  14. I totally agree. I guess that's why it's a good thing to have children who can help. Although having children is no guarantee that they will. You're a good son. I only have my Dad left and he's almost 80. I'm impressed that he still does his own taxes, but I can also see the decline in certain ways. He likes to go on the computer, but he's terrible at it. For awhile he was constantly getting locked out of his online banking. He also messes up the TV now and then. Then he doesn't want any help. I dread the day when I have to pry the car keys out of his hand.

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  15. I woke up at 1am this morning with the clear and certain knowledge that of which you speak is true. Not only for our parents but for the world and "us" in general. I tried to make a list of things that had got simpler with time and couldn't find one. Entertainment came closest. You press a button and people appear on a screen, but then I looked behind the screen and the amount of complexity that is required to get that image there. Then I let my mind trace back the cables to source... and I gave up. Could my mother rig up a new plasma flat screen satellite television? No. I then made a list of the basic needs for us to operate. Heat, Shelter, Food, Water, and tried to trace these things back to source and cost. The complexity of the chain is amazing and astounding.

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  16. Case in point right here: Half of your text is covered by a huge COOKIE ALERT WARNING that nobody frigging cares about.

    The answer is simple though: it's all about paranoia and lack of trust. But you yourself even fell for it when you said that you need separate passwords for each website to "be safe from fraud". That's where it all starts. Just give a shit about all this paranoid security and health and safety BULLSHIT, and life will already improve!

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  17. Yep, it getting more complicated

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