You want “nanny” stuff? I’ll give you “nanny” stuff! A few weeks ago I got a letter scolding me for not taking my metformin. (That’s a basic med for diabetes, which I have mildly.) Evidently they were referring to an interval early in the summer when I ran out of money and didn’t reorder my meds for a week. (I also take benazepril for high blood pressure but they don’t seem to care about that.) Both diabetes and benazepril address a complex of symptoms called “metabolic syndrome.” No one knows the root cause so the symptoms are treated.
While I was off my meds for a week, I took regular readings and saw that I only had a very small rise in blood glucose (which I largely control with diet and ought to control more with exercise) and high blood pressure. I explained to the doctor and asked if I could just quit. But she thought I should resume taking meds, that I had been “running on vapors.” She has now left, moved to Great Falls. The Valier clinic is staffed by a nurse practitioner whom I have not met. No one has suggested I should get tested for metformin side effects, though I probably should be. That part is in my hands. I take sublingual B-12, since a deficit is one of the side effects. Nothing else.
So, okay. I threw the letter away. Pretty soon I get a phone call wanting to know why I’m not taking my metformin. The voice sounded like a chirpy ten-year-old girl. She kept saying “awesome” and “perfect.” I protested that I WAS taking my metformin. I’m not senile yet! Anyway, I’m in charge of my health -- not her. She said she would put a note in the computer.
So this month again I get another letter scolding me for not taking my metformin. The benazepril was not mentioned. I have a nearly uncontrollable impulse to never take metformin again. Luckily, rationality took hold. It was clear that this little girl had a checklist, but I don’t think she had a box where she could check “obstinate old woman who hates to be nagged.” You know those ads where you open your bathroom cabinet over the sink and instead of the shelves there’s someone in there that starts butting into your life?
So what the heck was she doing? Market research. The makers of metformin were trying to figure out how to increase sales. I’m sure. She had a list: was I not taking the med because of cost? Side effects? Doctor advice? Metformin is losing profit, so now they want to promote something new and they’re trying to figure out how to pitch it.
I’m already constantly irritated by the little traps set in my computer. Google+ keeps letting people put me in their "circles" and it’s hard to find out how to get them back out. Google assures that people in their circles can only see your posts if you say so . . . if . . . when . . . So long as you figure out the fancy rules for who can see what, so long as the Google techs don’t screw up (lately they’ve been screwing up on Blogspot, where I have my blogs), so long as I don’t finger-fumble. It doesn’t seem to occur to these people that the consequences of some people seeing the wrong things can be devastating. I don’t mean criminal -- I mean political; sworn enemies; financial advantage; delicate counseling. Evidently these people who program have never been exposed to life enough to have accumulated cast-off lovers, hangers-on, persecutors, moochers, grifters, and other people one tries to give the slip. It’s all cold in-or-out plus-or-minus to them -- always hoping for the Big Money. This is not taking account of the unfortunates who add me to their circles, hoping for something they’ll never get since email works fine for me. How do they feel to never get a response? How do I feel when I turn away people so that I can monitor just a few people I care about a whole lot more than anyone else? (I dumped Facebook altogether after their predatory practices were revealed.)
How do I feel when I post something personal and private and then find it published on Google in an ordinary search of my name? Betrayed, that’s what. It just happened a half-hour ago.
About the time I get comfortable enough with one of these technical brainstorms to be able to concentrate on content, more bells and whistles are emptied out of some secret sack onto my screen. The same thing is happening to these “social media” that has happened to high fashion magazines: they’re all focused on sixteen-year-olds with indulgent parents (or maybe less familial or admirable sources of money). Not that I object to them all texting their brains out, even with their clothes off. I think the outrage about all that is simply intended to distract us from the constant snooping about what we buy, where we go, what we eat, and -- this is the biggie -- what we think.
Computer programs as herd dogs, driving us along with the other sheep. As the broadcast networks wither and cable wanders, the social media takes over. When I bump my friends and relatives about the dangers of Facebook, they whimper that they’re just trying to keep up with family. By exposing their secrets? Dripping factoids into the databases that underlie government policy? Right. I’m paranoid as hell.
I once said in an interview that the difference between television and using a computer is that a computer is pro-active. Television is just sitting there watching. On a computer people are searching, re-framing, scouting around. No more. Now many people I know got onto some social media site to keep track of close friends and relatives, but since then have been buried in meaningless exchanges with people they can’t remember. It’s like one of those Christmas card lists that just won’t stop. Everyone too polite to snub anyone. And trivia eats up time to search.
Every day I post 1,000 or more words in an essay. Yet people will send me “social” messages rebuking me for not keeping in touch. “What are you doing these days?” they ask. “Read the damned blog!” I shout. “But I want a message just for ME,” they whinge. But I can’t even remember who they are. They aren’t fans -- at least I presume that fans read what a person writes. “I don’t have time for all that,” they say.
Then the hell with them. But I don’t have time for this fussing. I’m composing something personal for someone I really care about. MY choice. MY caring. That’s why one of my computers never goes online. It’s PRIVATE. I presume no one is opening my snail mail to read it, but maybe I’m wrong. Behind the times again. I’m taking my metformin even though some nanny bleats I must. I suppose it’s character-building to oppose my own defiance.
10-12-13 PS: It may or may not be related to this post, but yesterday I got a phone call from my internet provider's spokesperson, as nanny as nanny ever gets. "We want you to have a superior experience. . ." and a lot of other smarmy stuff full of phony salesmanship. She talked over the top of me, kept trying to hint that my troubles were all my fault, and refused to listen. Clearly she was used to dealing with two-year-olds. I just want the facts, plain.