November 22, 2010
As I was walking to gym tonight, I glanced into the window of the pharmacy that stands next door. They had just recently finished some construction, and I peered inside to see what they did. I looked and saw five self-checkout registers. I thought to myself, "I want people back."
It started with automated prompts and computer-generated voices on the other end of the phone line. Speaking to an actual operator (mind you, already once-removed from real life) became great feat. Then the post office got machines that distribute stamps instead of people who you can chat about the different options with, how his day was going, and if he was going to do anything fun for the holiday break. The grocery store dropped its cashiers, too, although sometimes an annoyed checkout boy will help you when your self-checkout voice yells at you about your method of payment. The problem is, you can't talk back. And now, the pharmacy has gone the way of the world, too.
I have to ask: where have all of the people gone? Is anyone else noticing that our existence is becoming less and less imbued with real, live people? Human interaction is almost at a premium today, let alone meaningful human interaction. It's starting to feel really depressing.
As Christians who value incarnate relationships, I think we need to work doubly hard to make eye contact with people, even strangers, and to genuinely, thoroughly, and sincerely forge relationships. Otherwise, we're just checking ourselves out at the register, hoping for a little more than "Please remember to take your receipt" from our virtual friends.