Sunday, August 06, 2006

The Loneliest Number.

The future is going to be a lonely place.

I've noticed that as we move on as a society, we seem to spend less time in actual face to face interaction with others. In the service and retail industry, the person who completes any transaction with the quickest customer interaction is praised. It's not all about how you can help someone, it's about how fast you can do it. Speed is of the essence, the personality behind the transaction is deemed unimportant.

Bish mentioned service stations on his blog; they used to be crawling with people to help you. Check your oil, wipe your window, and test the pressure in your tires. These places used to be the standard, now they are a rarity. The standard now is pay at the pump, where you don't even have to have a cashier smile at you as they take your money. Forget the customer service experience, it's a waste of time. Jam your card into a machine that has no personality or soul, it's just as good, and all in half the time.

Phones are bad as well. You can interact with someone nowadays without having to actually speak to them. Text messaging and email accessibility have made actual conversation redundant. What's the point of taking the time to talk to someone when you can just fire off a text and know they'll get it sometime? As a guy who does use his email a lot, this may sound hypocritical, but I've never used email in place of going out for a cup of coffee. That's the type of interaction that means something.

What I'm trying to say is that as we progress as a culture, we should still take the time to enjoy basic human interaction with those around us who we come into contact with throughout the day. The reason I like my job so much is the constant flow of people, and the chance to have some sort of involvement with them that may or may not make their day just a bit better. Sometimes people seem shocked when you ask how they are doing, and listen to what they say.
Would they rather have someone behind a screen who just shoved their products at them with no interaction at all? Sure it would be faster, but what's the point?

So to prevent this solitary future from coming to fruition, take the time to enjoy your next service experience. Go in and pay for your gas, smile at the person who scans your groceries, and try phoning someone instead of making that quick text message. The interaction will do you good.


(Yes, I realize that making a point about human interaction by screaming it into the Internet is completely at odds with the message I'm trying to convey, but you work with what ya got, right? Would you rather I walk around naked with a sign that says "Interact with me- you'll enjoy it."? Nobody wants to see that.)

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