The Jetsons—a cartoon from my childhood—is becoming a reality.
A report called “The Future of Employment” was released, predicting that by 2035, about 35% of today’s jobs could be automated. Teachers, engineers, and physical therapists are safe. Clerks and tellers are most at risk, and so are people who work in food service, hospitality, finance, and insurance.
It’s already happening in San Francisco. Near the popular Embarcadero, Eatsa—a quinoa restaurant—has almost entirely eliminated a personal touch. You order on their iPad or your phone, and your meal appears in a personalized cubby. The only visible employees are the “concierges” who provide tech support while you are ordering. The others are hidden behind the giant screens around the restaurant.
A local company advertises that its mattress warehouse has zero employees, saving you money! If you want help, feel free to use the in-store phone to call the owner.
I’m guilty of it too. Just the other day I walked out of my grocery store, rushing through the self-checkout because I was in a hurry. It dawned on me that though I was surrounded by people, I hadn’t even taken two seconds to acknowledge any of them.
Do you know what it seems like to me? We are just building a society of lonely people. Technology allows us to talk to people a world away but disconnects us from the people we pass in a hallway. Businesses automate to the point where we can’t even complain about customer service because there is no actual service. No matter how we mask it, we are desperate for human connection. We’ve been created to not be alone.
As Christians, we are in a unique position to give people what they’re looking for—community—so we can give them what they need—Jesus.
We can’t change an entire culture, but we can work to change those who come into our personal bubble. Be the one who creates community.
- Stop going through the self-checkout lane. Wait the two minutes in line. Look the checkout person in the eye. Smile at the bagger.
- Walk your child into school. Say hi to another parent.
- Smile at strangers in both your local small business and the big-box store.
- Invite someone over for dinner or Bible study.
- Multitask. Invite a friend to help you paint a room. Then help her organize her basement.
- Sit by a parent you don’t know at the band concert and introduce yourself.
- At church, walk up to a stranger and say, “I don’t believe we’ve met before.” (And if you have, apologize and say, “I’m sorry! I have a horrible memory!”)
What are ways you use to meet new people and make connections? I’d love to hear them!