progression or regression?

Today’s Pearls Before Swine hit a little close to home. The convenience of ATMs mean I rarely see the inside of a bank or talk with a teller. I fuel up in silence now that I can use my debit card at the pumps. The automated checkout will eliminate yet another chance for human interaction at the grocery store. I would imagine the invention of the telephone caused similar concerns about social interaction, but email removes the last human element (the voice) from communication, enabling potential introverts to live in near-complete isolation.

“Ok,” you might say. “Big deal. It’s not as if the people of yesteryear had life-changing conversations with the gas station attendant” and I agree in part. It’s not a huge deal, but chitchat is a valuable way to interact with people. We are social animals and a cheery greeting or pleasant conversation can brighten an otherwise boring day. It makes the world a friendlier place.

I fear this trend may have unpleasant consequences. In the end, we may find that we eliminated an enriching part of life in the name of efficiency or convenience.

P.S. I am aware of the irony that I’m writing about this issue on a web site where there is no face-to-face interaction. For all you know, you’re reading the words of a quick-witted and versatile toaster.


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  1. While in Baltimore I was refilling the tank of our rental car before returning it to BWI. The gas station attendant was obviously so popular that the bullet proof glass he was encased in had chips and fractures all over it. Whoever tried to break the 3-inch glass must have really wanted to chat with the fellow. Golly, the people in this neighborhood must be the most nicest people in the world. I’ll bet the teller at the gas-station wishes there were more human interaction at the pump too. ;-)

    Comment by jason on April 28, 2003 @ 7:53 am
  2. As long as people need haircuts, they will be forced to endure some degree of human interaction. ;) I’ve also had some pleasant chats with grocery store checkout people lately. I don’t think their jobs will disappear anytime soon.

    Comment by Levi on April 28, 2003 @ 9:12 am
  3. That’s a pretty dang cool toaster. Where can I get one?

    Comment by Cameron on April 28, 2003 @ 12:54 pm

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