Tonight I had to fill out of a form online for an upcoming dermatology appointment. It’s my first time using this particular medical portal, so I first had to create a username and password to add to the literal gazillion user names and passwords currently in existence for me. I couldn’t even hazard a guess how many online accounts I have like this one. I can tell you, however, that if my stored logins and passwords ever disappear, I suspect I too will disappear from existence. I don’t know a single one of my myriad logins and passwords by heart. Not a one. So, I imagine that should my laptop every decide it is sick of storing whole my damn life, I will simply cease to exist. Isn’t that how it works these days? Anyhoo, after that first screen, there were nine others covering a range of information, from my medical history to my family’s medical history to surgeries I’ve had to medications I take to my next of kin and on and on. As I sat there laboriously working through this online document, I thought about how much time and money this must save doctor’s offices and how they probably have been able to reduce staff by at least a person or two because no one has to complete data entry from paper forms. It’s a more streamlined system.
I left my laptop momentarily to verify the dosage on a medication I take, and when I returned I noticed the screen had reset to the login page. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. Goddammit. NO! I logged in again, praying the information had saved. Alas, it had not. Forty minutes of my life gone in an instant with zero to show for my efforts. I cursed Al Gore for his role in paving the way for the Internet. In the olden days, I would have had a hand cramp that lasted for days after filling out those printed pages with ballpoint pen, but those pages would still be in existence on my counter when I returned and not lost to the ether because of some random software glitch.
I love me some Internet. I really do. I love that the Internet allows me to keep in touch with people without necessarily having to see them in person all the time. I love that the Internet enables me to research a topic in real time while I am having a discussion with someone. I love that I hardly ever have to go into a bank anymore. I love that if I am feeling super unmotivated, I can have the exact groceries I want delivered to my door through it. I love that I can shop for clothes without having to go into a store and pick them out and then stand semi-nude in front of a full length mirror in horrific lighting wanting to gouge my eyes out for my trouble. I love that I can use it to download a book or read a newspaper or watch a film. I am grateful I am able to use the Internet to complete tasks from home in my pajamas. All of this is good. If we can figure out a way for the Internet to make wine appear at my house instantaneously, it will be nearly perfect and I can go back to praising Al Gore for his foresight.
But until we can get a system whereby my medical history doesn’t suddenly go missing after a disturbance in the force resets an almost finished online form because some programmer somewhere forgot to put in an automatic save function, I would like some paper back in my life. Just a little. Not a lot. Don’t get me wrong. I am all for saving trees and the planet and all that jazz. I just like knowing that there is a paper trail once in a while. If you give me my paper medical forms back, I promise I will stop complaining about the hand cramps.