I’m worried, yes I’m worried. Just before Christmas I was at a local mall and a young lady walked into me, bounced off, and walked along. She was texting, obviously a very important text. She did not say excuse me, did not look up, just kept looking at her phone. Incredible! I think it is a symptom of the lack of human interaction we see in the world today which is increasing at an accelerating pace.
If you are old enough to remember NOT having a computer in your home, so you are over 30, think back to all the things we do now, all of us, by machine. Now I am not condemning technology, far from it, the microwave oven is one of mankind’s great inventions, right up there with the wheel. But there are things people and companies do that intentionally reduce human interaction and they are being done at an increasing pace. ATM’s and Cell phones are a pretty good inventions too.
I just gave the example of the kid texting. If any of my teenagers, I have 3, need to contact a friend, they text. When I tell them “just dial the phone and have a conversation to find out the whole answer” they look at me like I have just been declared insane. What, talk to people? This is the thing I fear most. I know I sound old saying this, but I’m worried that this generation is losing the ability to communicate. Every job ad I look at says “excellent written and verbal communication skills”. How do u build good skills if u don’t use u r brain 4 years of txtg? (Frightening but Word accepted these text signs without marking them as errors.)
Spelling? C’mon. My 19-year-old college freshman says with pride that she can’t spell. She wants to be a teacher!!!!!! I tell her that it is very embarrassing when you write something on the board and a student tells you it is spelled wrong. I am a pretty good speller but it has happened to me.
I went to the doctor for my physical in November. My blood work came back and I got a letter saying what the readings were and that my blood sugar had jumped a lot, to nearly diabetic levels. Would it have been out of the question to call me, in addition to the letter? I like my doctor, but I would no more write him a letter stating my problem than I would send him a smoke signal.
Car repair is another example. I went to get the heated seat fixed on my wife’s car last March. They gave me a car for the day because there was an open recall which we did not know about, so life was good. Because of my teaching schedule then, I just barely made it back to the dealership before they closed at 9 pm. Hopped in the car and was on my way. I did not even have to pay because they were warranty items. So I got a ½ mile or so down the road and turned on the heated seat. Went on like a champ and then turned off in about a minute. Well that was the problem I had brought it for and explained in the morning. The next day I returned. The service guy said “the computer said it heated up to maximum temperature just as it was supposed to.” I asked, “did the computer say anything about it turning off about a minute later?” He said that was not part of the computer diagnostic. In nicer words I said that he should sit his lazy butt in the car, turn it on, turn on the seat heater, and check for himself. I waited this time, they did as I suggested and found the problem. AMAZING! A human tested something and found the problem that the computer could not.
Another item that reduces human interaction is Computer help. Never mind that computer and many other technical manuals are now on-line and there is no book, but when you call to ask a question, the recording says, there is a ½ hour wait you can “go online for “live chat”. Wouldn’t it make sense to get some of these chatters off the computer and put them on the phone?????!!!!!!! Also, is it possible that since you have a problem, maybe you don’t know what to ask? Or the problem may not let you get on-line. Since I am much more into people than machines, I am likely to wait the ½ hour. I’ve done it before. But recently I caved in and tried “live chat”. It was a computer on the other end!!!! I would type in my question and it would come back with a canned answer like, “that does not match any option”, or “did you mean…?” Are you kidding, NO, I meant something totally different than I typed!!!! So it is “live chat” with a computer?!?! Really? So I’m chatting with a THING, which is supposed to but doesn’t understand what it is supposed to…Really?
I ended up calling their help line, waiting the ½ hour and talking to “John”, in some foreign land. Something like, “Peggy” on the Discover Card commercials.