Terry Gilliam, the only American in the Monty Python crew, is one of our favorite directors. As the creator of such films as Twelve Monkeys, The Fisher King, The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, Brazil, Time Bandits, and Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Gilliam offers a unique, visually complex, and often dystopian take on the existential crises of the age.
In his latest film, 2013’s The Zero Theorem, Gilliam filed a remarkable scene that captures perfectly our addiction to all those portable screens we carry, you know, the ones now proven to play a causal role in blindness due to macyular degeneration.
One scene from The Zero Theorem perfectly captures out digital addiction, and while we were unable to find a copy in English, language isn’t all that important. Just watch and you’ll see what we mean. And if you have to sprechen the Deutsch, so much the better:
But when it comes to adverse health impacts caused by our fixation on screens, their dampening effects on personal interactions and blindness may be just the tip of the iceberg.
Is our digital addiction literally handicapped surgeons?
Roger Kneebone is a trauma surgeon with eclectic interests. In addition to heading London’s Imperial College Centre for Engagement and Simulation Science, he also runs the Royal College of Music–Imperial College Centre for Performance Science.
Kneebone has just raised a major ruckus with a shocking claim, one that hints of a looming healthcare crisis.
From The Times of London:
Trainee surgeons do not have the dexterity to sew up patients because they have spent too much time in front of screens, an expert has said.
Roger Kneebone, professor of surgical education at Imperial College London, said schools should ensure that pupils received a rounded education, including artistic subjects that forced them to use their hands.
“It is a concern of mine and my scientific colleagues that whereas in the past you could make the assumption that students would leave school able to do certain practical things — cutting things out, making things — that is no longer the case,” he said.
More from BBC News:
“It is important and an increasingly urgent issue,” says Prof Kneebone, who warns medical students might have high academic grades but cannot cut or sew.
Prof Kneebone says he has seen a decline in the manual dexterity of students over the past decade – which he says is a problem for surgeons, who need craftsmanship as well as academic knowledge.
“A lot of things are reduced to swiping on a two-dimensional flat screen,” he says, which he argues takes away the experience of handling materials and developing physical skills.
Such skills might once have been gained at school or at home, whether in cutting textiles, measuring ingredients, repairing something that’s broken, learning woodwork or holding an instrument. Students have become “less competent and less confident” in using their hands, he says.
“We have students who have very high exam grades but lack tactile general knowledge,” says the professor.
And still more from Quartz:
We use smartphones so much, they have given way to terms like “text claw” or “cell phone elbow”—both popular names for cubital tunnel syndrome and carpal tunnel syndrome—as well as “smartphone tendonitis.” That said, there is also evidence that smartphones and the requisite increase in thumb-and-finger use are making our brains work harder. That’s no help to surgeons who need the medical students lithe and supple.
While we await independent scientific verification of Kneebone’s assertion, we suspect he’s onto something.
And if he’s right, it may just be the tip of a much vaster iceberg.