Friday, 11 February 2011

Katie Fforde sent me an interesting

"tweet" yesterday in which she observed that technology was taking away opportunities to talk to people. She pointed out that, in England, you could buy train tickets on line and that you can now do your own check out at the supermarket.
There is at least one supermarket here in Adelaide where you can check out the items yourself. I have been there. I went through the checkout with a person. I had to. I had old-fashioned money in my hand to pay for a $1.99 purchase. (It cost me $2.00 of course.)
When I did the usual larger Thursday supermarkert shop yesterday and asked for a home delivery I passed my ID over to the student who works there on Thursdays. She wrote all the necessary information down and we then proceeded to talk about the essay she had asked me to read. As I left I heard the person behind me asking her what she was studying.
The boy who delivered the order is doing some sort of computer programming. He was having problems with essay writing last year. I pulled a few essays to pieces for him because one of the other students who works part-time had suggested to him that he approached me.
I am not the only one who does this. There are several people who will give these students a helping hand. They do not see their lecturers or tutors as much as they used to. The supermarket has a policy of employing students part-time. It is a good idea. It gives the students much needed part-time work and work experience. For the most part they are intelligent and able and they get valuable experience in mixing with a much wider variety of people. It gives the students human contact and the opportunity to learn "people skills".
If the supermarket went self-checkout some people would be delighted. They are the sort who rush in and rush out and have no desire to talk to anyone.
Others, such as the elderly, would be completely lost. It would not just be the technology that would cause them to be lost but the lack of human contact.
I have recently been responsible for one elderly woman in this district while her daughter has been away. The community bus picks her up on Thursdays and takes her to the shopping centre. Apart from that she is not mobile enough to go anywhere except by taxi. I called in about three on Tuesday and she said, "How nice to see you dear. You know I don't think I haven't spoken to anyone since Saturday. I found myself talking to the television set. Ridiculous. I am looking forward to Thursday."
She was quite cheerful about it but I sensed that, underneath the cheerfulness, she craved some human contact.
I have come across that sort of problem with the elderly before. It is why some of them eventually head for a nursing home. They want daily contact. It is comforting. It makes them feel safe and secure. They do not really want to live in an institution but it is preferable to living entirely alone.
Katie Fforde's "tweet" therefore alarmed me. I realised how true it is. There are people who, like me, work from home. They have little or no contact with other people during the working day. They convince themselves that they have "no time", that they are constantly "busy". They may believe they have large circles of "friends" but they really know very little about these people. They watch television in the evenings and then head to the pub at the end of the week. There they meet more casual acquaintances whom they call "friends. They will tell you that they do "talk to people". Yes they do but they do less of it than they used to.
They talk but they do not communicate.

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