The COVID-19 Arrow: Striking at the Heart of American Life and Culture

The COVID-19 Arrow: Striking at the Heart of American Life and Culture

Technologies [High Tech vs. High Touch]

Dr. Silberberg (2020, pp. 12-13) devotes some of her essay to a description of the impact which technology has had on the practice of Israelis who are working in the field of psychology. I want to expand on her analysis by turning to the role played more generally by technology in American society. I will be examining the interplay of technologies with the provision of human services in the Unites States. I propose that a community of care exists in the United States that extends far beyond psychological services. It is a culture of “high touch” that contrasts with the culture of “high tech.” It is this high touch culture that might be a partial antidote to the individualism of American culture. A community of care provides sociopetal settings in which people can emerge from their silos and seek help.

COVID-19 had an impact on both high tech and high touch in the United States and may have helped to create some new tensions between these two cultures. However, the virus might also, as Dr. Silberberg suggests, offer an opportunity for valuable collaboration between the worlds of technology and care. Specifically, I propose that one of the first places where push and pull are simultaneously engaged in American culture is found in the role played by technologies in confronting the COVID-19 virus (a push away from other people) and the comparable role played in the United States by interpersonal, caring relationships (a pull toward) in confronting the virus. This is the struggle that exists in virtually all segments of American society between high tech and high touch.

High Tech

Quite clearly, life in the United States (and in Israel and most other economically prosperous countries in the world) has recently been enveloped in technologies. We engage various technologies to guide our cars through city street and country roads, to tell us which products we should buy and which thoughts we should be thinking. Technology is even beginning to monitor our health. I have recently embarked on a major project regarding what I have terms “Human embedded technologies’ that is helping to identify and analyze the many good and not so good ways in which technologies are not just influences our thoughts and actions, but also becoming intimately interwoven with all aspects of our life.

This interweaving has only increased with COVID-19. In our physical isolation from one another, we have become dependent on digitally mediated communication devices, such as Zoom, when interacting with other people. Our isolation has also created conditions that increase our reliance on advanced technologies (such as hand-held mobile devices) for obtaining information about the “outside” world—and especially what has been happening every day (or even every hour) with COVID-19 outbreaks and shifting Covid-19 related policies and restrictions.


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About the Author

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William BergquistWilliam Bergquist, Ph.D. An international coach and consultant in the fields of psychology, management and public administration, author of more than 50 books, and president of a psychology institute. Dr. Bergquist consults on and writes about personal, group, organizational and societal transitions and transformations. His published work ranges from the personal transitions of men and women in their 50s and the struggles of men and women in recovering from strokes to the experiences of freedom among the men and women of Eastern Europe following the collapse of the Soviet Union. In recent years, Bergquist has focused on the processes of organizational coaching. He is coauthor with Agnes Mura of coachbook, co-founder of the International Journal of Coaching in Organizations and co-founder of the International Consortium for Coaching in Organizations.

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