In case you haven’t noticed we are in the new age of automation.
When I do my shopping at the supermarket, I take my groceries and check them out myself.
There’s staff to greet me with a “good morning, afternoon or evening”, while handing me a basket, so I can automatically “do it all myself”.
A shopping isle will be open if you qualify with a trolley full of groceries that will not fit through the automated check out designed for smaller more frequent shops.
A few products fit on either side, all complete with senses, enabling you to double-handle each item before you can put it into your own bag.
Not only am I required to serve myself, the shop assistant stands there talking to me about nothing in particular, and as I leave, wishes me a good day even if I have made absolutely no eye contact, or said anything to provoke attention. So now I have to entertain the shop assistant while she/he stands there with the magic scanning card, should I accidently touch or choose the wrong button. The act of shopping now requires me to be sociable, when I prefer autonomy.
Here is a generation who know how to make life easier, standing around and supervising everyone else doing all the work.
In this new way of being, I am officially ‘old school’, for this reveals that, “One can’t be bothered”,
“it isn’t up to me”,
“it’s all up to you”
“the system was at fault”-
“it’s not my fault!”
No one will take responsibility for any fuck ups! The error message is from the system, a glitch beyond the control of any human. Like the bubblegum macs of yesteryear, whenever you hit the wrong button, the mac’s voice would state “It’s not my fault”!
For all it’s worth, my wisdom will not stop the system. “Don’t fight things you can’t change”.
When I decided to rearrange our mortgage, the automated system penalised us, charged us extra because we did not submit our paperwork the same day it came to us via email. The expectation from the system was that we were to print it, sign it, scan it and get it back to the bank, the same day. As we had failed to follow due process, we were penalised and charged $10 above the original quote.
The following week a notice arrived informing us that our mortgage was in arrears, that we had missed a payment and we were required to pay a penalty. That night I panicked, how could this be so, we had arranged a direct debit monthly payment, it could not possibly be in arrears, it was only three days since, I mean surely someone would call me? I mean I always pay my bills on time.
When I called the bank, Bill, a real person, said that it was a mistake, that it was a letter that was automatically generated by the system. The letter was sent automatically. After my personal telephone call and prompting, the mistake was reversed.
How can a letter generate and send itself in the mail? The letter was miraculously in my letterbox. I picked it up with my hands. I opened it, with my fingers. I touched it and read it. The letter was real. It triggered in me a panicked response. The explanation? The system automatically generated this letter- ‘It’s not my fault”. My fees and charges pay for this letter to be created and sent.
When I mentioned that automated services were going to be the result of an increase in ‘mental illness’ and the ‘self combustion’ of the human race, (I am so melodramatic!) Bill agreed with me, and we had a great laugh!
For all this automation, the cost of living is increasing, stress has become a daily vibe and the notion that technology makes life easier is relative. Now I’m required to scrutinise every transaction.
We are drowning in a tsunami of data, where navigating the discourse of systems highlights the new age of “bullshit”, camouflaged by a voice that’s here to help, incessantly repeats “I understand” as you scream into the receiver of a telephone made redundant by 4G and suddenly realise in the ambience of silence, that you are shouting at a machine.