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Saturday 26 December 2009

Self-Service Machines are What's Wrong with the World

Ok, so that title could be a little mis-leading. I take it back - self-service machines are only what's wrong with the world if you hold friendship and self-fulfillment (of any kind other than money) important. That is perhaps more accurate.

When doing my Christmas shopping (so thankful that that's over, now January sales time!) I noticed that more and more shops seem to be acquiring self-servicing machines; among them: boots, the post office and tesco (though to be fair, they've had them a while in my local tesco). I guess on the positive side, they may save some time - we don't have to queue quite as long, at least until the machine breaks or someone can't work out how to use it.

But on the negatives: they break; they lose jobs (only one person is needed to supervise however many self-servicing checkouts are available, as opposed to a person per till; they are supposedly simply yet I think I managed to put the wrong postage sticker on a few of my parcels; and, perhaps most importantly, they are yet another way for us to not communicate with other living, breathing people.

Now, I am not particularly a people person, there are many times when I just don't want to talk to anyone and the internet is great for that as you simply press the 'appear offline' button, but let's face it, communication (actual speaking and reacting to body language) is an important part of our lives. I don't think that losing it will benefit our society in any way, yet we still seem content to shunt human interaction further and further away. People need to socialise; it's in our genes; it's a survival instinct. If you don't believe me, lock yourself away for a week or two (no family, no friends except those you talk to through a computer) and you'll soon find yourself pining for interaction, not to mention the fact that you'll probably be bored out of your mind - there is a limit to how long you can play facebook games for!

Perhaps queueing for the till might take a little longer, but allowing yourself that time to slow down isn't a bad thing. And make sure you smile and thank whoever it is that serves you - they've probably had a long, hard day and just want to go home (but at least they have a job which they might not if everything was done electronically).

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