Monday, November 16, 2015

Illuminations 11/16


In Defense of Human Non-Interaction

I love people; I really do. I love getting to chat with others and I feel it broadens my view on the world. Everyone offers unique perspectives and I want to be exposed to them all. Since childhood, I've been one of those people that will talk to anyone and everyone, and as they get uncomfortable because I'll ask them what they think of crunchy peanut butter and then request to know their darkest secrets, I bask in it. I'm curious about everyone I meet.

So I'm sorry to say I'm also one of the only people I know who will promote less human interaction in places of business. 

I know.

But humans are flawed; we make errors, and we mess things up, and we don't communicate properly all the time. So when you walk into a store and you think, "This cashier is a fucking idiot oh my god," or when you're working at this store fighting the urge to roll your eyes at every customer, it's hard to view the whole of humanity with the wide-eyed curiosity I encourage everyone to use. I have a complicated relationship with this, mainly because I love people so much and I've had some really good interactions with customers at my job.

But I can also ensure that I've had interactions that make me consider going all Thoreau and running away from society. I know most of these people who are so awful at communicating in stores and restaurants would be lovely people - but the environment we're in doesn't allow that to be seen. When I have someone place a phone order for delivery, I'm constantly trying to get off the phone so I can help a customer who's standing in front of me waiting to order. So when someone uses Seamless, I love them a little bit; it's clear, concise, and tells me exactly what I need to do. And I don't need to remember every detail of your order: "Bacon well-done but not too well-done, eggs soft, home fries mixed with salt and pepper but no spices on the bacon please, oh and my roll double-toasted. Now for the next sandwich...."

 

The problem usually is that every service and store has its own lingo, and customers don't know how to speak that lingo. So when you walk into a salon and the hairdresser doesn't give you a cut the way you'd like it, you probably didn't describe it correctly. Think about this innovation: a "build-your-own-haircut" app, so to speak. Click what you'd like, show the results to the hairdresser, let them do their thing. You know what? I propose the following: automated check-outs and ordering systems in every establishment with services offered and transactions taking place. If you know an item is on sale in the grocery store, the worker may not get the memo - but the auto check-out will. If you can just order coffee over a yes-or-no touchscreen system, you'll be given the lingo of the barista and they can interpret it exactly as you wish. 

While most of the commentary to be found on this subject is very against what I'm promoting, I feel like the whole of humanity agrees. Why else would there be automated options for nearly every service? (Seamless for food delivery, Stamps.com in lieu of going to the post office, Amazon instead of going to a shop, etc). Having to encounter people in a high-stress environment, where they're underpaid and over-worked, or in a rush and trying to get off line as fast as possible, no one is going to be happy. I'm even willing to assert that this will lessen a person's probability of pursuing real-life interactions. Let's stop jading ourselves and instead embrace technology. And let's embrace technology so that when it matters we will still love each other.

ayyyy Kyle

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