The thing that heals people is relationships – the problem is that technology has the ability to actually facilitate relationships, but it can also get in the way of them.
Above all, Smythe doesn’t want distant medicine to lead doctors to be desensitized by death. He draws an interesting parallel — the use of drones in war. Without boots on the ground or vivid and live battlefield images, death can become abstract and sanitized. Navigating a drone to a drop site is relatively easy–and we should all emphasize relatively–in terms of seeing and feeling the results of war. By contrast, tossing a grenade over a wall, driving over an IED, engaging in close quarter combat, and other critical military missions cannot bring one any closer to both one’s enemy and the realities of death.