A world of Disconnect

A while back while I was at the grocery story I noticed something rather interesting. While I was thus engaged in shopping and looking for a convenient check out I noticed how so many people gravitated towards the self check out lines. They were quite long and people were standing there with their baskets and carts full of groceries waiting for their turn at the check out.


Then I notice that the cashier in the normal check out line was helping some people with their groceries.  But a funny thing was happening, their was only 1 or 2 people in that line.


I could not help but wonder why so many people would be driven to the self check out when they could have opted for the actual cashier and had their groceries bought and paid for before they even had the chance to use the self check out. Why would they prefer to stand in a line waiting for self-serve rather than have a real person serve us. What is it about the computerized service machine that is so much better than a real person. What makes a person prefer that to a lonely cashier waiting for someone to serve while they stand in a line up for the self-serve check out. The local Target store near my home has catered to this mentality and has around 5 self-serve check out machines for every 1 real person service check out. You leave the store and there is only one entrance that has actual cashiers. The top floor does not even have a cashier from what I can tell but at least 10 self-serve check out machines.

Have we become so disconnected and anti social from the world around us that we would rather stand in a long line playing on our smart phones than actually talk to someone, you know a real person? Is the thought of actually having to talk to someone to buy your groceries so overwhelming that we just cannot handle the fact that they are not a machine? Are self checkouts really that much better than real live in person interaction? I mean what if they ask you how your day is? what if you can’t answer because it’s not a Facebook chat? Is it because you don’t know the proper hash-tag for answering such a question?

What a sad state of affairs we have come to that we would rather stand in a long line up waiting for our turn at the self check out than take the time (and in this instance) a lot less time to talk to someone as they ring in your purchase.

It’s been said that we live in a world of smart phones and dumb people. All of this connectivity has done more to disconnect us from the world around us and the people around us than it has ever done to connect us. We live in a world of information at our finger tips instantly while at the same time the things that matter are right before out eyes and we don’t take the time to notice or acknowledge their presence.

Maybe I am a bit old school but when I go to the grocery store I would rather stand in a longer line up and wait for a cashier than the “convenience” of a self check out whether I have 1 or 100 items. It’s the human connection that matters. And the person at the till is just as human as you and you can make their otherwise mundane day better by stopping to ask them how their day is. And sharing a smile while they ring up your purchase.

We are all children of God and have an inborn need for relationships and connectivity as a result, yet modern technology has been replacing that need for connection with an artificial source to meet that need and we have become addicted to artificial connectivity rather than using the natural means to accomplished and fulfill this need. You know, actually talking to someone.

May I make some suggestions that will hopefully change this pattern of behavior and thinking.

1) Take the time to bring your purchase to an actual cashier. Say hi to them and ask how their day is. Have a conversation with them and thank them.

2) Delete all social networking apps from you phone, tablet, or other smart device. Your status update can wait and in the end it is not that important. I have never seen on Facebook anything that is of such vital importance that it must be updated now. Ever. Social networking is a wonderful tool but do not allow it to distract from that which is of true importance. Social networking is great for sharing and communicating but don’t let it consume a large amount of your time.

3) Take the time to actually call someone instead of Texting them when the situation allows. I do understand that you can’t always pick up the phone and talk, but when that is not the case, actually pick up the phone and talk them.

4) Turn off the electronic media daily and limit how much time you spend online, watching TV or other forms of electronic media. Read a good book. Spend time with family. (I know I am guilty of not spending enough time with the kids and wife)

5) Do not allow yourself to become distracted with useless media such as celebrity gossip, or the latest viral video, this from my perspective is in reality just a waste of time. This goes for much of news media, don’t get swept away in the latest non news controversy, it is just not worth it.

Elder Quentin L cook has said “some addictions or predilections, while not inherently evil, can use up our precious allotment of time which could otherwise be used to accomplish virtuous objectives. These can include excessive use of social media, video and digital games.”

In other words allowing technology to distract us from meaningful human connections has, does now and will likely cause us to lose sight of what is most important if we are not careful in how we utilize that technology. Our over dependence on this type of interaction almost makes you wonder how did we live before modern technology.

I hope that I can teach my children that social networking, texting, tweeting and other forms of electronic communication is no replacement for real conversation and interaction with real live people. I hope that they will grow to love talking with people face to face and use these technological tools for good and not in place of interaction on a personal level. I hope you too can understand that and embrace real connections instead of false connections.

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By Andrew McLean Posted in Orginals