Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Continuing Dehumanization of Day-to-Day Life

I've always detested self-service machines in supermarkets, libraries and other places. (I admire Peter Hitchens for speaking out against them.) I've been an opponent of their increasing use in the library where I work-- they are pushed more and more, not as an alternative to a loans desk service, but as a replacement to one.

People always assume I am simply worried about my own job when I complain about them. Of course, I would rather be dealing with pleasant routine queries for the most part, rather than to be troubleshooting all the time and having to deal with upset and unhappy people (which is what tends to happen when machines take over all the more straightforward transactions).

But I have an entirely disinterested and principled detestation of self-service machines, too. I just think they make the world a worse place.

All this came into my head today because I went to the Bank of Ireland branch in Montrose. Up until recently they had a reception desk where there were usually two helpful and pleasant staff members.

Today I was ushered almost immediately into a chair with a telephone beside it and was served by a disembodied voice. The disembodied voice was very pleasant and helpful, but that's not the point.

I sent an email of complaint to Bank of Ireland, but what difference will it make? I imagine that only an organized, concerted campaign against this practice would have any effect at all. And I'm way oo lazy too spearhead that.

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