There’s No App for That

by | Jan 31, 2012 | Uncategorized

I am distressingly inept at discerning technological trends.

“The DVD will never last,” I proclaimed confidently in the high school cafeteria. A few years later, I wondered aloud: “Blackberry? Who would want one?” I’ll even confess to encountering the iPad with more bemusement than enthusiasm (and then I played 5 consecutive hours of Angry Birds on my sister’s tablet – but I digress).

My friend Keith (who, for the record, is far more technologically savvy than I) spotted this story in the New York Times Magazine. It’s by a Los Angeles physician who went to Haiti as a volunteer after the 2010 earthquake that devastated that country. Tapped to staff an emergency room (not his specialty), the doc tells of treating a young woman who had been raped. He was utterly incapable of connecting with her on any level. He spoke no Creole, and she no English. He was nervous about botching the necessary exam. He had no idea how to respond to her suffering with anything other than a prescription.

“Should I have at least placed a reassuring hand on the patient’s shoulder?” he asks himself.

That decision not to reach out – literally and figuratively – haunts the author. And can’t we relate to that? That evening, as he sits with another distraught volunteer, they view live video streams from more attractive places via iPad app: New York, Paris. Surely getting away will help.

But the guilt or shame (or whatever) remains. Turns out there is no app that can open our hearts – nor one that can quell the regret when they remain closed in fear.


Timothy O'Brien, SJ   /   @tob_sj   /   All posts by Timothy