The Electric Mower of Our Future

Posted by Ron Decker on 07/07/2021

Futurism is a long-forgotten artistic movement that sadly has been disentangled from its hero, Italian poet Filippo Marinetti, who in the early twentieth century took the time to write the Futurist Manifesto in which he proudly declared artists must turn away from idyllic pine trees and Homeric shores and embrace what Marinetti thought would be traits of the future—speed, machinery, industrialization.

I say sadly but I don’t feel sad about it, I don’t feel sad about it at all: futurism and futuristic speculations cause me chagrin. I feel perfectly overwhelmed trying to grasp what it’s like to be alive in the contemporary without pondering some remote, mercurial future where home nests excrete vapors that pacify colic-y infants and vogue gruels made of milky substance and pillaged rainforest fruits clean the colon and make the muscles of the abdomen walk out of fat like an Etch-A-Sketch.

In contemporary parlance, I submit, it’s little known the origins of Futurism rest in an artistic movement at all. Poor Marinetti! Now, rarely used in its noun form, it’s more shorthand for describing new-looking fashions—as in self-checkout is “futuristic”; toe-sandals are “futuristic”; IKEA furniture is “futuristic”; Black Mirror is “futuristic”; Apple Pay is “futuristic,” ad infinitum. It is employed, without understanding, to describe the habits, behaviors and characteristics of decades to come.

At times, I take great joy in misconstruing technologies for which I don’t immediately feel an affinity. For instance, at a pool party I might labor to depict a lizard piloting a drone to disparage the electric lawnmower. My jokes, in short, can be Luddite-themed.

I feel pessimistic toward dutifully working at grasping what will be, for a long time, a work-in-progress; I hold suspicion that the current form the technology takes will seem slow and misshapen in the future. Think, I advise myself, of dated cell phones—those crude outsized blocks, with microphones, alighting like craven mosquitoes on the ear. They are like cave dwellers to our common existence.

But of course this is all a bit tongue-in-cheek: I am, like everyone else, a beneficiary of technology and have spent the past few months writing about modernization and transformation in healthcare and how essential it is for medical providers. I disclose the feeling above in attempt to sympathize with people who resist technologies. In my own business, I eagerly lean into whatever promises to enhance the services I provide clients, however mind-numbing or obtuse getting a grasp on them might seem at the start.

Optimization in healthcare, using KPIs to improve care, trim costs, and gain efficiencies, employing modern tools, techniques and technologies, to optimize practices is not without work at the frontend and I feel that this initial effort is what often prevents providers from outfitting their practices with these analytics. And then we use the attitude described above to make justifications for outdated practices. But it is worth it, for both provider and patient, constantly to streamline office procedures.

Thus I am advocating that we lead a divided life, be savvy in our business and ostentatiously Luddite in our private lives. What’s the harm in this? Isolate the technocrat drinking Topo Chico at the pool party and disparage him behind his back with your likeminded friends. This is catharsis enough. But wake up Monday morning eager to learn the relevant technologies.

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