03 April 2007

Getting there in a handbasket

okay, this is depressing: sunshine plus a hug, for sale in pillow format. (Via Popgadget.) Not that plenty of people don't need more sunshine and hugs - god knows I could use 'em , especially in a cold New England april, with a sinus infection to boot - but the idea is ... hmmmm ... appalling is the right word to use here.

Not to sound like an old coot spouting cliches (although I sort of am) but what happened to, you know, going out and making friends? Which I realise is a bit rich coming from a blogger with a rich and varied online life, but most of my online friends have also made the jump into real life. With hugs and all (although none of my friends or relations emit sunlight; some people I've met seem to be under the impression that the sun shines from their nether regions, but those people aren't usually going around dispensing hugs anyway.)

Anyway, it's not the need for the pillow that appalls me, it's the idea that for an $84.95 pre-order, you can buy the solution to your loneliness. Loneliness is a bigger problem than this pillow ... so I'm not faulting the genius marketer who came up with the idea of a light-emitting pillow which hugs you back (although it does resemble Funzo in some ways [unrelated: that simpons website is badly designed]) ... I just think it's another symptom of the over-medicated American culture. Much easier to throw a little money at a problem than invest time and hard work and scary amounts of energy fixing it the old-fashioned way.

Okay, it's a pillow, not Prozac. And I do think medicine for emotional disorders is waaaay important. I can testify about how it saved my life and blah blah blah post-traumatic-stress-cakes. Clinical studies support this view; no doubt about it, medicine can't be ignored when treating things.

But I also think medicine only addresses about half the problem - the other half comprises behavioral changes and therapy working in conjunction with your meds. And that stuff is harder to implement than a one-off purchase of a pillow or some drugs.

Take, for example, my sinus infection. (I know, ew.) The doctor wrote me a scrip to wipe out the infection. We knew I had ongoing sinus issues, since she'd referred me to an allergist last summer (who found out I am allergic to dust mites but nothing else, and that my sinus headaches were actually migraines) ... anyway, my doctor used her knowledge of my allergies to help with the sinus infection diagnosis, but didn't suggest that I do anything about the trigger for the allergies (which were the cause of the sinus infections.) I'm not complaining about my doctor here - she's totally awesome - but I think it would be a good thing if doctors, along with the prescriptions, also prescribed things like "air out your house" and "exercise at least three times a week" ... which, I know, easier said than done. But if they keep saying it, maybe some and then most of us will start doing it. And that would be a good thing, because it's a big step in the preventative medicine department and also a step towards greater accountability for your own health and well-being.