Are we heading to a point in time when actual face-to-face — and not Skype or Face Time — between people will be as rare as a blizzard in Death Valley at high noon on the Fourth of July?
Out of Sweden comes news of another way to avoid connecting with other people eye to eye. The ICA supermarket chain has teamed with a courier firm to offer grocery deliveries to your home when you are out. The courier uses a smartphone app to access a special lock on your home’s door that you can program for a narrow window of access time. After gaining access they take off their shoes and then take your grocery order to the kitchen where they’ll put the items away for you before leaving.
Twenty households in Stockholm are participating in the pilot program. Their participation was driven by the fact it was inconvenient for them to be at home to accept grocery deliveries let alone shop in a supermarket. ICA is trying to counter inroads being made into grocery sales by firms such as Amazon.
There was a time it seemed technology was simply going to make us all lazier under the guise of saving time. Now it’s making us less social even though we are communication more electronically.
I get that going grocery shopping can be a pain. But it’s more about just nourishing your body. The social interaction that comes with it nourishes your soul.
It is an opportunity to interact with neighbors and strangers. You develop casual interactions on a weekly basis with the produce guy and cashiers.
In many cases, it is a great way to start acclimating children to how to behave in public. Granted, sometimes that doesn’t go well but lessons in behaving, acting cordial, not grabbing everything in sight and learning to function as a family in public is priceless.
Now it will be possible not even to have to interact with a delivery person.
You read how those participating in the pilot program are just too busy to have to fit grocery shopping into their schedules.
Perhaps they’d be less of a gap between socio-economic groups and the other chasms that seem to be tearing apart the fabric of society if we all bothered to do things we share in common such as the need to shop for groceries.
I get that the super rich as well as CEOs paid more in a day than the entire value of the inventory in a stocked Food-for-Less store would have no use for such mundane activities when they can use an hour’s pay to hire someone full-time for a year to grocery shop.
But as more and more “elitists” become disconnected with everybody else it only serves to widening the gap between us and not narrow it.
Of course, they can afford not to shop on their own and fork over the extra dollars for the delivery service. They can even go further — if the Sweden experiment works — and pay a tad more and not have to associate with anyone below their pay grade face-to-face in real life in order to grocery shop.
Its getting to the point when those who have key positions don’t need to interact with the masses to either socialize or make businesses decisions.
After all they can mine data collected from smartphones and the swiping of debit cards to determine shopping habits and trends.
Why talk to people when you simply digest data?
The days when people would walk down the street in the evening and stop to chat with people working in their front yard or sitting on their porch now seem like the Dark Ages.
The more technology we roll out to improve communication the less we communicate in person.
Little wonder why it seems more people are not just falling victim to swindlers but are feeling more and more isolated.
We have created the modern equivalent of the Tower of Babel. But instead of talking in a hundred different tongues we are talking in a hundred different ways that don’t require real in-the-flesh face-to-face interactions.
It sounds good not to worry about mundane tasks such as going to the grocery store or even being at home for a delivery man. But we are giving up a lot in the name of convenience?
Talk used to be cheap. Now it requires a $300 mini-computer disguised as a phone with a minimum $50 a month talk plan.
This column is the opinion of Dennis Wyatt and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Journal or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 209.249.3519.