Reducing Friction in Life

With the overload of information in our society it’s becoming increasingly difficult to retain and process the information with our human capacity. The major victims of such a conundrum are the elderly. So many things to remember, medical history, bills, how to use new apps, politics, grocery lists, various appointments and several random stuff that we have generated in recent times. It is not very easy even for the young to remember everything they encounter with. This causes friction among people who are either expecting themselves to remember everything or dependent on someone else. Friction in life only adds stress, discomfort and bitterness.

For example recently my mother has been quarreling about my father’s medical history which he always forgets and is totally dependent on my mother to keep a track of it. India doesn’t have a centralized medical information system yet that keeps the track of one’s health and therefore it becomes the responsibility of the patient. A situation has risen that my father needs to see a specialist in two weeks’ time and my mother won’t be available for him then. He is fretting that he wouldn’t be able to explain the doctor about his medical history in my mother’s absence. The friction caused by such a situation lead to shouting and telling each other that they are not responsible or not enough concerned about others etc.

A simpler solution to such a problem could be just writing down everything in a diary or creating a summary that can be handed over to the new specialist. But many people I have encountered who do not want to accept this reality that they can’t remember everything or even if they do remember, sometimes it is difficult for them to explain information in a logical order. In my understanding many people fear to accept this fact is because they do not want to feel embarrassed or look down upon themselves on losing their ability to remember or coping up with the ever growing information overload. In my opinion human brain is not constructed to be a library but it is rather a processor that is meant to think and solve complex problems and not to remember trivial everyday details. Indeed, we do accumulate memories throughout our lives, but those memories should be the important ones and not about your next doctor appointment or grocery lists.

For such things we have readily available help. If someone doesn’t want to keep a hand written diary then it’s really easy to store information, make lists and setup reminders on a smart phone. I can understand that using a smart phone can be a challenge for an elderly but it is still far worse than forgetting important information and causing friction in their lives.

I am in my early 30s, highly qualified with a mental capacity to remember a lot of information, but even I find it much easier to accept the fact that I should spend more of my brain capacity in problem solving rather than remember trivial details and therefore, I use technology to do the donkey work for me. I use Evernote for storing information, Workflowy for making lists, Google calendar for setting up reminders and Dropbox for syncing my important files across my devices. I even have reminders setup for my favorite TV shows because to me it doesn’t matter whether I remember them by myself or I get a reminder from a machine as far as the purpose of watching my favorite TV show is met.

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