I tried to refuse the self-checkout. I would like to say it was out of some sort of duty to those who will lose their jobs. It’s not that I’m not sympathetic, that I’m not sad to see people replaced by machines, but if I’m honest with myself, I’m more upset at my loss. I don’t always trust those machines. It’s a lot of work for me to make sure that the price that comes up when I scan my item is the right price. Besides, those machines have no personality. You don’t get to chat about the weather or politics or any other meaningless topic that comes to mind. I guess you could try but it would be a one way conversation. The only thing the machine ever says to me is, “how did we do today?”
How dare you ask me how you did today?
You are a machine programmed to perform a set of tasks. Who is “you” anyway? How many of you are there? Do you talk to each other? If so, do you chat about the weather or politics or any other meaningless topic that comes to mind or in your case I guess you say that it enters your circuits? You really didn’t do anything today. I scanned my own groceries. I bagged my own groceries. I ran my credit card through. I carried out my groceries. As a matter of fact I picked all my groceries off the shelf and did all the work. How did you do today? Based on the fact you did nothing, the nothing you did was done with perfection.
It is an impersonal world.
I’m not going to go all crazy about machines taking jobs. Sometimes it’s just better to have a machine to do a dangerous job or a job that requires a precision beyond human capability. Still, there is something that gets lost when you remove the personal encounter, however brief, and replace it with automation. Before we know it we become conditioned, we act just as much like a robot as the robot does.
Think about it, just like the robot arm of the assembly line, we reach into our buggies or baskets, remove each item, scan it, place it in the bagging area and repeat. Maybe you haven’t noticed but you know where each button is on the self-checkout register. You know approximately how long it takes for the item to be recognized by the scanner and added to your bill. If the scanner doesn’t recognize it you immediately know change to the angle and swipe feverishly until the item is recognized.
We have become conditioned.
We say we don’t like all this automation but we’re actually kind of good at it. It won’t be long before it just becomes a part of who we are. If we do something enough it becomes the norm. We can’t remember doing it any other way. Even if we do remember, this has become so much a part of how we live that we don’t care to go back to the way it once was. I even find myself rushing to the self-checkout, blinders on with no intention of saying anything to anyone. What once was upsetting, what I once complained, even railed against, has become a way of life, a way to get things done fast and I guess you’d say more efficiently because I don’t have to talk to anyone.
This is just who we are.
We are beings that find it difficult to accept what is new but once we become accustomed to it, it becomes a part of us as if there never was anything else. Even in the things that can’t be replaced by automation, the things that a machine will never take over, we slip into behavior that is not questioned just accepted. Family dinners become simply a time to eat when they should be times of building relationship. Extended family events become an interruption to our busy schedules even though our schedules aren’t that busy. Romance, once the foundation of our marriage is replaced by his and hers big screen TVs in separate rooms.
Maybe we need to be asked, “How did we do today?” Maybe that would shock us, make us realize we live in our own world, one void of relationship, one designed simply to accomplish what we want to get done, one that never stops to interact with others.
The rush out of our churches to get home. In most cases there is nothing important to do it’s just what we have done every Sunday for as long as we can remember. We are annoyed if church goes on longer than usual, church is 1 hour and 5 minutes, church has always been 1 hour and 5 minutes.
We read the Bible every day, or almost every day. We cover our small group material. We say our prayers before each meal, when we get up and when we go to bed, but we don’t really think about them.
It’s not what we wanted it simply is what life has become.
Like the items we scan at the self-checkout, we just do it mindlessly because it needs to be done. We never meant it to get this way. We swore up and down we would never treat our relationships like this but when you think about it, we seem to have no problem with automation doing the jobs we don’t want to do.
I usually include a Bible verse or two that match the subject in the post. Although I believe this post has a challenge that is biblical I couldn’t come up with a scripture – what do you think would be a good scripture for this post? Please leave your comments below.