Saturday, August 8, 2009

Are Tech Savvy People More Prone to Thoughtlessness?

The idea that people are very thoughtless these days shouldn't be a shock. I believe technology allows us to avoid general intimacies. By general intimacies, I mean the social interaction between humans in the service industry. For example: Many of the grocery stores in my area have added 'automated' teller checkout stations to the front of their stores. This ensures that you don't need to 'deal' with a live human to ring up your things, thus eliminating the possibility of the smallest amount of human interaction. The only reason a human needs to interact with you, is if you need to authorize your age OR something went wrong with your transaction.

Some appeal for me with the machines is that: 1) The machine doesn't ask you how your day was, 2) the machine doesn't chat it up with the customer ahead of you, 3) the machine doesn't verbally kidnap you and tell you about their day even if you appear to be in a hurry, and 4) the machine doesn't give you 'attitude' for using a check. The machine generally ends your transaction with a "Thank you for shopping at (insert store name)"

I enjoy these machines! Not because I am antisocial to the extent that I don't need human interaction. I prefer this method of check out, because I don't need to deal with the above noted comments on what these machines DON'T do. And just to clarify, I don't mind people asking me about my day or on the other way around. Sometimes, I actually care and want to know how a person's day went . It is very polite to ask, but it should be viewed as a nicety. In other words, it shouldn't be my chance (or someone elses chance) to unload my (their) emotional baggage of the day on someone who was being polite. Also, I don't mind people chatting up other people. But don't do it if I'm the one behind you and we're in a service, customer situation!

Automated machines are just one example of how society is inadvertently cutting out interactions between humans. Because of this, people don't know how to communicate with each other. We don't know how to 'read' or track other people's attitudes.

There was a time when great customer service was something you simply expected. There wasn't ever a question about how your call would be handled, how your complaint would be addressed. Even getting gas used to be full service. Someone would come out, ask you what kind of gas you wanted and you'd tell them. (There are still a few east coast states that still do things that way.) Now, you have to have something physically wrong with you to get an attendant to pump your gas.

And what about the days where you'd walk into a store and if you seemed confused, someone would ask you if you need help. Try that at Best Buy or Staples these days. You WILL wait till the sky turns red and still be waiting to be 'helped'. And what about food service? Remember the days where if you didn't eat ALL the food on your plate, wait staff would take the time to ask why? What was once common, is now something we think never really was....

The advancement of the cell phone has allowed us as humans to cut off that part of ourselves that used to like writing letters. It's cut off that part of us that used to be in tuned to how a customer, how each of us is thinking. It's cut off part of our humanity.

Remember you have a voice and a heart. Remember that intuition inside of you that recognizes other people's pain. You were born of a human, of this earth. We are all linked. Once you lose that part of you that senses outside itself, it is almost impossible to regain.


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