Addiction to Artificial Perfection
In our society today, we have a susceptibility to want to fix everything that's physically wrong with us. We buy hair care products, face soap, tanning lotion, acne cream, Crest Whitestrips, shaving cream, coverup, etc. Over $10 billion is spent annually for plastic surgery, in the US alone. If we have a toothache, we rush for the first available appointment with the dentist. If we have trouble falling asleep, we investigate the plethora of prescription and nonprescription drugs that can help us. While many of these things are beneficial, and can greatly improve our quality of life, a lot of them are unnecessary. Some are simply gimmicks that we buy into, and then come to depend on. At times, this dependency, or addiction, can have serious consequences for either our health, our lifestyle, or our self image.
One example of this dependency dilemma is how many people have turned to drugs such as Adderall or Ritalin to help them focus. I think concentration is a challenge for everyone, especially while doing something you aren't particularly interesting in. But people not diagnosed with ADHD have been getting a hold of these medications to enhance their focusing abilities. It is especially prevalent on college campuses, as students cram for tests and assignments. While these students may be getting their homework done more efficiently, they're also missing out on the important self discipline of teaching yourself how to study and how to concentrate, without artificial means.
The force that is driving this addiction is the technology we now have to solve so many of our health problems. In an age where we can cure many diseases, determine the sex of our children, and see inside our own brains, it is impossible not to want to utilize these advances.
The next example shows how much potential there is for technology to still benefit us.
Stanford scientist Steve Quake was only the fifth person in the world to have his entire genetic code -– his genome — spelled out last summer. Now he claims to be the first to use it to find out just what diseases he's at risk for, and what he should do about it. http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=126396839
While technology is an amazing thing that benefits so many, it also creates a moral dilemma that we have to think about: where does medicine cross the line in becoming too unnatural?