Tech Overload: putting one’s foot down and walking the talk

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The other day I got yet third email reminder for an appointment with a dermatologist. And it wasn’t the day before. I also had received two text messages already, demanding that I text back to “confirm” – even though I had made the appointment, in writing, via email, per my request.

This is the second healthcare provider who thinks it’s okay to do this (our dentist is another), and refuses to stop these communications no matter how many times we ask. Neither of us mind the reminder voicemail the day before an appointment, that’s expected, but the barrage of emails and texts starting three weeks before the appointment – one being on the day I made the appointment…last month! Ironically, while they stalk you with technology this way, they still don’t have their technical shit together enough to let you make an appointment online.

Why am I bringing this up? Well, sometimes enough is enough, and I was sick and tired of being overloaded with unnecessary messaging. And the most annoying part of it all are the receptionists who we request over and over to stop it with the barrage of emails, with a zero-accountability, robot response of:

“We can’t do anything about it. It’s the computer system.”

Y’all, we are not quite living in the movie where the robots have gone wild and are trying to eat our brains. There are few things more fucking stupid than these assholes in doctors’ offices saying that nothing can be done because the software they paid for is set up to stalk you and they are poor, poor powerless victims of it all just like the patients they are supposed to be serving. Basically, these little fuckwits are saying, “I don’t care about respecting your wishes, and I certainly am not going to take ownership for something our software is doing, even though I could get off my lazy ass and call them to try to get this customized.” Because here’s the thing – if a customer tells you to stop contacting them, you have to stop. You don’t get to keep harassing them via technology. And when I get 6 emails and 4 text messages before ONE appointment after telling them to stop multiple times, you bet your ass I consider it harassment…especially after they admitted during this conversation that they were required to call, email OR text – yet refused to stop the emails/texts and simply do the one phone call the day before.

(What did I do about this doctor by the way? I told them that we will be finding a new dermatologist since they refused to stop the multiple reminders. Lots of people I’m sure will say “why are you making such a big deal out of this, just mark these as spam and forget about it” but it’s become a matter of principle. It’s invasive and disrespectful and this world is getting to be way way too tolerant of technology invasions, big and small. Hell, millions of people still use Facebook despite the fact that they as a company have done nothing to stop harassment against women. People still use Twitter even though Twitter allows the dickhead in the White House to use it to spread lies, make racist and sexist statements, not to mention Twitter does nothing to protect women against threats of rape and murder. It’s time to take a fucking stand against bad behavior and call it out – big and small. It’s time for us all to look at ourselves and audit whether we are walking the talk. Are you supporting companies, big or small, who disrespect their users/customers? Are you genuinely benefiting from this technology, or using it because you don’t want to make the effort to connect with people one-on-one? I can tell you, there’s nothing better than getting off of social media to find out who your real friends are. You know the people who don’t need billionaire Mark Zuckerberg to stay in touch…who by the way, is a massive hypocrite and real SOB – check out what he’s done in Hawaii this year, or how he’s trying to avoid paying Facebook’s fair share of taxes…). The older I get, the less I’m willing to compromise when it comes to this kind of thing.

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Back to the constant electronic reminders…

Ironically, “alert/alarm fatigue” is something that there are many articles on in the medical industry, because of so many beep boop beep sounds in hospitals that they all meld into one. ERs are constantly whirring with the sounds of technology…and if you think about it, so are many of our own environments. You just stop reading stuff when you get a deluge in your inbox, you just stop paying attention.

And that’s why I’m writing about this, not just to vent but because we all have a lot of technical shit being blown our way by so many folks, from personal emails to bill paying to online newsletters to work email account(s). AS for me, I currently have 5 active email accounts for myself, my business, and my active clients, so my level of organization and tolerance for spam and unnecessary information is very, very low. And the one thing I’ve learned is that if I don’t like something, passive-aggressive bitching is not going to do it – asking for change is the only way to potentially improve things, and letting those companies know that you are not going to tolerate bad behavior, showing them in that they will no longer profit from you directly or indirectly (remember, you might just be sharing pictures on your Facebook, but you are giving them – for free – personal information on yourself and your activities, and by your membership supporting the same company that profited off of Russian trollers in the 2016 election, among many other icky things? Remember, they’re a marketing company – they are NOT whatsoever about connecting people. Not even close.).

Here’s the thing – life is an adventure enough as it is without allowing technology to constantly interrupt us on their schedules (not ours). And when companies, big or small, profit off you through unscrupulous practices? It’s time to think long and hard about how we connect, our indifference to privacy,

“The problem lies not with our desire to connect, but with our form of connection. Our technology gives us a form of connection with the whole world, but at the same time it can limit the depth of our connection to the world around us, to those closest to us, and to ourselves. Technology has been very good at giving us what we want, but less good as giving us what we need.” – Arianna Huffington

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(PS – for those curious about my own social media use, my husband and I had Facebook in the old days, closing our accounts 5 years ago. Our last adoption agency said the only way we’d get updates is if we were on their FB page and upon looking at it, it was just a bunch of jesus freaks yammering on about how god gave them these children and “sent them” to go rescue them, totally ignoring the fact that a large number of these children do have biological parents and there was a ton of scandal going on. Anyhow, in 2011 my employer required I get Twitter as part of my recruiting work, and not long after leaving that company to start my business, I was off of it after the massive lack of accountability in Twitter to protect women along with the disgusting and hateful behavior of users towards me and others I knew. I tried Instagram for about 5 minutes before realizing a) they’re owned by Facebook, and b) it’s kind of ridiculous if you already have a blog and more about getting attention from folks you don’t know. I’ve never used Vine or Snapchat or any other video apps, I don’t see the reason. As a longtime recruiter, LinkedIn is a requirement for the work I do so that’s not possible to avoid. So I’d say the only active social media I have is Pinterest, where it’s pretty much just a different form of search engine/bookmarking  tool since I only follow a few people and use it primarily for organizing thoughts around our future homestead, gardening ideas and such 🙂

  One thought on “Tech Overload: putting one’s foot down and walking the talk

  1. October 27, 2017 at 11:17 am

    One of my roles is as a receptionist – hahaha… maybe I should stop right there? But not in a medical establishment, I hasten to add. It’s at a head office of a large global corporate company.
    We don’t have software that pings anyone incessantly, so you can’t shout at me 😉 we do, however, have to put up with an extraordinary amount of sh*t from people – people from all walks of life, from the most corporate directors to the general public who want to have a go and because you’re sat there like a sitting duck – you get their wrath full flow. You’re the face of the organisation you represent and you get the full flow of whatever is on a persons mind.
    I can honestly say hand on heart that I never knew people could be such twunts until I worked as a receptionist. They’re worse when I work on the switchboard because they think nothing of shouting and deafening you (I have to wear a headset) being abusive and threatening to come and do you in because of x,y and z issues with the company (a company I am contracted to work for, I don’t actually work for the sodding company!) whistling (that hurts when you wear a headset), not explaining what their call is about but demanding to be ‘put through’ (yes, happily, but with thousands of listings, who to exactly?)
    So I have some sympathy with the receptionists you mention because I’ve been on the end of someone having a rant at me about something I have no way of fixing – often the powers that be don’t give a toss what the bottom-of-the-pile receptionist says, even though they are the person dealing one on one with the service user at grass roots level. I’d imagine it’s nigh on impossible for these receptionists to find out anything about the software – never mind even trying to find who the actual person/department is in the organisation to stop the harassing messages.
    Totally agree with you about social media – I fail to understand why so many people live vicariously through it – how they literally overshare and most of what they write on there is glossed up nonsense anyway… I use social media to keep in contact with family all around the world, but have many sabbaticals – I need to, else I’d go nuts I think!
    I hope you get the annoying messages thing sorted, that would drive me nuts too!

    Liked by 1 person

    • October 27, 2017 at 3:33 pm

      I was an admin for many years before I moved into the HR world so I totally have empathy… The receptionist I work with all my clients are my BFFs because I rely on them so much to tell me how candidates coming in for interviews behave towards them (kind of like how I take candidates out for coffee and watch how they treat the barista). The thing about the particular situation I spoke of is that this is a small office of about 6 people and all they’d have to do is contact the software company or the Doctor who owns the practice to find out what kind of customization can be done or how to tweak things (working in the tech sector I know these things can be done)… But the ironic thing is if you noticed in my post, they actually did have the capability to stop emailing and texting me and just leave me a phone reminder…but they chose not to. Having worked in one type of customer service role or another for the past 25+ years, the one thing you never say to a customer is that you can’t do anything about it or you blame the system – instead you try to find a solution and you apologize, but you don’t tell the customer that they are SOL.

      Liked by 1 person

      • October 27, 2017 at 11:16 pm

        Hell no, you certainly don’t…. I usually just listen to people and there’s generally 2 types – people with definite issues that need to be addressed from my end somewhere/somehow or signposted to the correct person/department if it’s not anything within my remit; or I try and help as much as I possibly can so I can say hand on heart the person left the desk having had the best support I could offer… I wish you were their recruiter because I reckon there’s a nasty little bitchy power hungry thing going on there with them… we’ve had temps who have been vile and I’ve always had to remind them our job is to BE THERE for the CUSTOMER and that customer can be anyone from a person walking in off the street to one of the top stakeholders – we make a point of trying to acknowledge every single person who walks past the desk, to keep people informed if they’re kept waiting for their appointment – it’s just common courtesy.
        I’d love to go and sit in with these horrors and give them a bloody good shake up. I hope you can take it further and teach them all a lesson – it sounds like they think they’re above anyone else, have forgotten what their actual main aim of the job is (being pleasant and helpful to the service user – who is their bread and butter, ultimately) you’ll have to let me know how you get on!
        About social media again – don’t you find it’s everywhere? It’s all pervasive – I have my facebook insisting I put my phone number on there – nope that won’t happen. I also hate how messenger can never be switched off – and that it’s continually asking me to synch my contacts with it – erm no – I’m not facebook friends with everyone on my contact list for a valid reason thanks…. ugh!

        I too, would much rather talk to people than stare at a screen.

        Liked by 1 person

        • October 28, 2017 at 7:36 am

          Haha yeah one of my favorite quotes I thought up myself was that recruiters are just like bike commuters, as the bad ones make us all look awful 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

  2. October 27, 2017 at 12:42 pm

    I use Facebook and the associated messanger but I use all the available settings to avoid uneccessary alerts and notifications. My cross-stitch community on there is freaking awesome and supportive. My grandma is on there (pretty impressive grasp of technology for someone who is 85!) And she loves seeing what we are up to. Keeps her up to date with all the grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Instagram is also used for cross-stitching but that’s about it. I don’t need linked in for work, I work in a specialised area and I have a specifically focussed recruitment agency that I use. Funny, I don’t use pinterest anymore because in the cross-stitch community a lot of ‘free’ pinned patterns are copyright violations.

    I also get sms reminders of medical appointments but it is only 1 message the day before! Surely there is a frequency setting in the software they could change! The amount of spam email is ridiculous. I ‘unsubscribe’ from as much as possible from mailing lists etc.

    Tech is both amazing and frustrating. I hold in my hand a device meaning I can chat to my online mums group at 2am because my son has a fever or is feeding and someone will usually be there to say hello and give advice. I can see what my fellow cross-stitchers are working on and we have stitchers from all over, Australia, Canada, USA, UK, New Zealand, UAE, Netherlands, Italy, Philippines etc. It exposes me to artists I didn’t know about and I even found my local club on facebook and go to in person meet ups!

    But, at the same time, reading comments on news articles makes me angry, the ‘mummy wars’ gets nasty via social media, far more than it would in person. I see people out to dinner just staring at their phones, people replacing being in the moment to scrolling facebook. And that doesn’t even touch some of the nastier things going on.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. October 28, 2017 at 3:53 am

    I love this post!!!! I usually get 1 text reminder for hospital appointments but what I find now is that companies are wanting to use my e-mail (I blocked them because of spam) to send me bills instead of sending me bits of paper I can file. Are they paying my internet connection to retrieve my e-mail? Are they paying my printing so I can file these pieces of paper? When they demand landline numbers to contact me on, I say “no” to marketing or passing my number on and they ignore it so I pay £25/month (landline and Internet) to be harassed by spammy e-mails and cold phone calls wasting my time. Even shops now ask for an e-mail address to send me my receipt to, so I just ask for a refund instead.

    Liked by 1 person

    • October 28, 2017 at 7:40 am

      Amen! Yeah my husband works in retail a natural foods grocer and they’re trying to call it paperless, the oldest scam in the technology book. My favorite new one that places are trying is instead of giving you a paper punch card they want you to sign up online with your phone number… I laughed out loud when I saw that one. I have always used an old phone number for my grocery store membership card as I don’t need them tracking my shopping habits.

      Solidarity!!!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. October 28, 2017 at 6:42 am

    I’m just here on my couch, nodding in agreement with you.

    Liked by 1 person

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