Movies In, iPods Out- How the Trapped Chilean Miners are Using Technology to Survive

Posted: April 19, 2011 in Media, Mobile Technology, Social Media, Technology, Tolls/Gadgets
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October 04, 2010-

How does technology play a role in keeping the Chilean miners both psychologically and physically fit?

As modern day technology consumers, many people around the world have integrated their technology use into their ritual of daily habits. For example, studies have shown that at least half of us turn on our computers first thing in the morning, even before we use the bathroom or drink our coffee.

Technology has so ingrained itself into our daily rituals that it is now considered vital to our mental survival, and has factored highly into the list of amenities currently being proffered to the 33 Chilean miners who have been stuck a half-mile below the surface of the earth since August 5th, after an enormous rock slide impeded their exit from the mine.

As Newsweek noted in a recent article, the miners are against an incredible number of odds as a result of the harsh underground living conditions, “To survive, they must endure constant 90 percent humidity, avoid starvation, battle thirst, guard against fungus and bacteria, and stay sane enough to safely do the work necessary to aid their own rescue.”

However, this is not your traditional mining disaster. The 33 Chilean miners are being treated to a modern-day approach to human survival. That means the miners are able to have their laundry done, three hot meals a day and occasionally ice cream.

As Newsweek has reported, the rescue effort’s lead psychiatrist, Alberto Iturra Benavides, is implementing a strategy which leaves the miners “no possible alternative but to survive” until drillers finish rescue holes, an operation whose completion date is estimated for early November.

What’s more amazing than even the basic services of laundry and hot meals is how technology has been able to play a vital role in their daily rituals and the quality of their survival a half-mile down. MSN reported that each weekend the miners have been able to communicate with their families via video chat for nearly eight minutes per miner. Also, as Newsweek reported, “When the miners do get moments to relax, they can watch television  — 13 hours a day, mostly news programs and action movies or comedies, whatever is available that the support team decides won’t be depressing.” Dramatic television and movies are barred, and the news they receive is being censored. The censorship is performed on the miners’ behalf, allowing them only positive and escapist entertainment- nothing too serious or grim.

Interestingly, though television and movies are allowed, personal music players are not. The reason given for this is that they tend to “isolate people from one another.” The rescue operations feel that the most important thing the miners can do is to be there for one another and be united in their efforts to survive. Personal music or game players would impede that effort. Newsweek reports that the lead psychiatrist on the case, Iturra, has proclaimed “What they need is to be together.”

There are, of course, some restraints for what technology may reach the miners. At this stage in the rescue efforts any and all technology must be able to fit through the incredibly narrow holes (approximately 3.19”) which are the sole means of communication and transport between the surface of the earth and the miners.

To continue following the efforts to rescue the 33 trapped miners in Chile, including the possibility that they might be rescued as early as late October check out these links:


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