Feel Like Society is Becoming more Stupid

I had a frustrating day trying to talk with a medical reimbursement claim person over the phone.  Basically, I was trying to get reimbursed for vision care expenses using money I had set aside because I don’t have vision care insurance.  They told me they couldn’t reimburse me from the money I set aside because the person wrote on the receipt that they examined my eyes and fit contact lenses.  They were fine covering the eye exam.  They were fine covering the fitting of the contact lens.  They were not fine with the combination of the two together!?  They wanted me to drive back to the eye doctor and get a revised receipt with separate charges for the eye exam and contact lens.  But the eye doctor doesn’t have separate charges for eye exam and contact lens fitting so he would have to just make it up.  Alternatively I could have the eye doctor rewrite the receipt for just an eye exam.  For me it unfortunately will require about 2 hours of round drip driving, or coordinating getting a rewritten receipts by fax (which I don’t have).  In prior years I’ve always submitted my eye exam as one receipt.  Now it’s changed.  Another person then chimed in that I would also need to show an explanation of benefits summary from my vision care insurance to show that I’m not getting paid any benefits from my vision care insurance.  I explained I don’t have vision care insurance.  They replied I should submit to my medical insurance.  I explained my medical insurance, Aetna, doesn’t cover vision care.  FYI, the person I was talking to and disputing my claim works for Aetna?!  The person is stumped, puts me on hold, then goes away for a while, comes back and states they will need to reprocess my claim and it may take up to 10 days but also reminded me that if things go past April 15, my claim may be forfeited.  Ahhhh!

Maybe I’m being impatient, but this is just one more evidence of what I consider Society as a whole becoming Stupid.  I can no longer point the finger at one person being less capable of reasonable thinking but at a whole system that enforces stupidity.  By enforce I mean if you work for one of these companies you could get reprimanded or fired potentially if you don’t follow the procedures and rules of the system, no matter how much they don’t make sense.  So in fact in these situations it’s best to hire people that don’t ask questions and just follow rules.  And when the rules and procedures are ambiguous you interpret them in the way that’s most likely to protect your employment.  On top of this throw in continual efforts to reduce cost while “preserving quality”.  You reduce costs by laying off higher paid more experienced employees to and then you replace the “expertise” once held by the experienced employees with documented rules and procedures.  Initially you can try and outsource to a company in India.  Eventually, the idea state is that you handle it all by computer.  To “preserve” quality you either eliminate or reduce the ability of customers to give direct feedback on their satisfaction.  You create a quality measurement system that is assured of 100% satisfaction no matter what. If for some reason a customer complaint comes thru successfully you concentrate on cutting costs which will cause the layoff of the person that allowed the successful complaint thru.

In my case the more frustrated I am, the more likely I’ll give up and forfeit my right for getting reimbursed.  So me the customer is the problem.  Reduce costs and eliminate me, quality goes back up.  And once there are less complaints and phone calls you can justify reducing the workforce once again.  Costs down.  Profits up.  And someone is thinking our society is getting more advanced and intelligent.

The movie “Up in the Air” gives a bit of a taste of what I mean by Society becoming Stupid.  If we look at the whole of let’s say Westernized Society as a single organism, that single organism places highest priority on profit, acquiring, building and consuming.  The more we profit, acquire, build and consume the more we believe we have progressed.  With the use of computers to streamline the process we are pushing more towards that goal.  And if you think far enough ahead we can probably maximize profit, acquiring, building and consuming if we eliminate humans and just have machines take over.  Sounds a bit like a script in many Sci-Fi movies.  But it is happening now, not so much in the physical elimination of humans (although if you look at job layoffs, crime and wars that might actually be happening), but in the elimination of humane behavior.  We are dehumanizing ourselves somehow with a blind eye.  This action of dehumanizing is our Society going Stupid.

Back in Feb 19th a software engineer comes to wits end with his dealings with the IRS.  I can only imagine that no single person is to blame. Everyone is doing their job, following he rules and procedures and that software engineer just has to be patient even though his financial well being is being threatened.  He feels completely dehumanized, emotionally exhausted from countless contacts with the IRS department and he loses it. In a time where everyone is downsizing more things just fall thru the cracks.  This software engineer eventually loses it and does a terrible act of violence.  Within days the incident is put to rest and forgotten.  Life goes on.  Everything is just fine.

I don’t know about you.  Have you been feeling like things aren’t fine?  That more and more things are becoming less caring and less humane?  That our human society as a whole is becoming more stupid?

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