Bernie Anderson
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the blog

Current musings, whatever they may be. 

Self-Check and Killing Culture

Grocery shopping is a strange sort of happy place for me. I’m one of those people who enjoy it. I particularly enjoy going to a place like “The Fresh Market” — where there’s an ambiance of classical music and free coffee. But really, any grocery store will do.

I see a lot of people who rush into the store, race around grabbing their necessary items and rushing out. I am not one of those people. I find grocery stores oddly therapeutic and so am usually not in any sort of real hurry. I like to see what’s on sale, what’s in season. And it’s an oddly good time to think.

Self-check lines at grocery stores became ubiquitous in the early 2000s’ and I was an early adopter. I could now go into a store, do my shopping, and leave without ever interacting with a human. This was a great way to feed my introverted side. Uninterrupted thinking. I love technology.

I avoid self-check now.

I don’t think they’re necessarily great for our culture.

Too many times I’ve seen people treat other human beings as if they were a self-check machine. Or an ATM. They stay on their phone, any obligatory interaction is curt and often rude. They don’t say thank-you.

And you don’t have to say thank you to a self-check line. Or an ATM. Or Siri or Alexa.

But it’s extremely important that we must human beings different from AIs.

While we still have check out lines run by people, I will make a point to use them. It’s inefficient and all financial transactions that require human input (primarily cash registers) will eventually go the way of the dinosaurs. Probably within the next decade. I’m confident that the revolution has already started.

Still, everyone needs a smile and someone who will take a moment to put their phone away and interact with them like a human.

I have determined to be that person.

You don’t have to smile and say “thank you” to a self-check machine. But never deal with people the same way you do machines. That’s the best way to kill culture quickly.