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Wearable tech and Corvid-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has really focused a spotlight on the role of wearable technology in monitoring the health of the general populace when in-person medical resources get stretched to their limits. From elderly people living on their own and monitored by smart devices that report to caregivers to elite NBA athletes living in a league-wide isolation bubble wearing rings that provide vitals to league doctors, wearable tech has seen an accelerated acceptance curve as the western world struggles to provide care at an unprecedented rate. All is not rosy, however, for even something that seems like an indisputably good idea has trouble gaining acceptance in the modern discourse. Much like the simple facemask, wearable technology faces an uphill battle as it transitions from novelty to ubiquity.

From a strictly scientific viewpoint, wearing a device that can reduce the chances of untreated illness going undetected is, obviously, a no-brainer. Why wouldn’t someone want to give themselves the best chance at living a long, healthy life by merely embracing an easy lifestyle change? The reality, however, is far more complicated—especially in the USA—as years of rampant individualism bolstered by toxic fear mongering from certain factions about freedoms and personal rights has left any discourse about what is best for society as a whole rendered impotent by a reduction of healthy dialogue to mere regurgitation of meritless ‘facts’ either used without context or created from thin air to support whichever argument rationalizes your actions. This has left thousands of people unwilling to wear a simple mask to prevent the spread of a deadly disease, saying that it causes oxygen levels to drop, or doesn’t prevent transmission, or any other provably false statements, all to justify what is more likely a simpler explanation—they simply don’t want to.

Under these difficult conditions, it is clear just how onerous it will be to get people to wear devices that, however helpful they appear, may give a faint whiff of infringing on personal rights to those who constantly fear anyone, especially an authority, ‘telling them what to do.’ Therefore, it may simply come down to luck or fashion in order to have enough acceptance to create a useful database of medical information broad enough that society can see trends in health and hopefully prevent outbreaks from even occurring. However useful that information may be, unfortunately people are likely going to have to give it unwittingly or unknowingly, as the likelihood of them giving it voluntarily seems remote, and the percentage of those concerned with the well-being of society as a whole will not be enough. But there is hope nonetheless, for luckily for there is plenty of precedence for people quite willingly donating huge quantities of information daily, completely unbeknownst to themselves--and they don’t seem to care in the least, because there is no way they would give up their cellphones. That would take away their precious freedom.

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