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  • Writer's pictureJose Arrieta

Doctors Without eMails: A German Paradox

Medical doctors, the type who probe bodies and save lifes are quite of an interesting German social niche. To be a medical doctor you have to either have been at the top of your Gymnasium class, or have not had anything better to do an waited until the Numerus Clausus conditions are met. Generally speaking, when you enter a Doctor's office in Germany, you can expect them to not be dumb.

That said, there is clear evidence that medical doctors suffer of some sort of mental disability. A vast number of doctor offices in Germany post Fax numbers but no eMail addresses on their websites. Let's think about this for a second without cynicism.

For the first part, we have a social niche composed of non dumb people. Second, these individuals are capable of using the fax and telephone. Third, they are capable of communicating with a website developer. Fourth, they are not tech savvy enough to know how to operate an eMail address. How can these four truths be true at once?

Well, my grandma suffers a similar disease. She is 82 years old and for over 20 years she has "watched the Internet" as her now 91 year old husband browses it and shows her around. She is able to ask for directions and get the information she requires. Yet, the service is very much a broadcast television that caters for an audience of one. My grandma is old though. Many doctors are in their 30s and there are doctors out there who just graduated and work in offices without email address which solely communicate by fax and telephone.

Imagine the relief these people have to have felt when they graduated and had to stop pretending to be able to browse the web and use email addresses. How hard their lives of these people has to have been growing up with their objectively dumber friends setting up Facebook profiles and matching up in Tinder. Imagine how much they had to mask to fit in in a society that demands them to be able to receive emails. Imagine the joy when they got their university degree and they could forever forego fo their computers and smartphones; the bliss of buying a landline and paper for the fax machine, and finally living their true loves as the last analog humans.

Seeing it this way has helped me empathize with these doctors. It helps me wait more patiently on the phone while I wait for a result of a test at random hours of the day. Imagine how hard if has to be to reply to every customer you have at the same time instead of automating an email program to send results as they arrive. It helps me be less angry as I walk to their office to pick up a paper with my test results. Just imagine the fear they have to feel of losing their only original copy of the results. Sure they could asktheir objectively less smart employees to make photocopies and store them in a separately but they might lose face. I mean, the fear of your subalterns learning that you are both Frau/Herr Doktor, the best of the German best and also a digital disabled human has to be crippling in its grip.

I get I guess. I have had my share of crippling shame. If the paradox of the Digitally Disabled Genius Doctos is what they need to keep them saving lives, then I guess that is a price we need to pay as a society. However, if there are other reasons, as say that they feel poorly remunerated for answering emails then my empaths might be less munificent.

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