Thursday, April 23, 2015

The traveling man observes ... that he is no Jetson

Every once in a while the in-flight magazines have really interesting essays that make me wonder why the author published the piece there.  In this funny and sarcastic essay, the author complains about the modern gadgetry that make hotels more inconvenient for us, ahem, older folks; he writes:
Across the world, hotels are becoming digitized and automated. Soon, our concierge will be an app, our chambermaid a robot and our sightseeing guide an Oculus Rift.
I agree with the author about "the eradication of human contact" at hotels anymore.

Thankfully, it was not a driver-less vehicle that dropped me off at the hotel, although, I am afraid, that day is just around the corner.

I walked up to check in.  There were more than a dozen flashing electronic screens instead of people.  Yep, those screens were for checking in.  First it was at the airports, and now at hotels too!

I followed the instructions and swiped the credit card.  It didn't work; of course!

Which is when I noticed an employee staffing the check-in counter--but that seemed like it was for customers with privileges.  I walked up there anyway.  He processed my check in.  I now had a room key, er, card.

I was reminded of that in-flight magazine essay:
When I mentioned these intrusions to a friend who works in hospitality, she was not remotely surprised. Apparently, sending electronic missives is only one way hotels are trying to connect with millennials who never look up from their communication devices. This year, she assured me, will mark the beginning of the end of the room key—and possibly the reception area—as guests check in and unlock their doors by waving their smartphones about.
Yes, millennials and others who don't bother to look away from their devices.  Even when crossing the street at busy intersections in a big city.

Earlier today, I was in an elevator going down.  It was one woman and me. A floor down, another woman hopped on.  And a third at yet another stop.  "Looks like I am the odd man out here" I remarked.  I had to--I am human.

"You are not odd" replied one as she looked up from her device.

"I mean literally" I said.  I figured that she doesn't have a sense of humor or small-talk, or both.

"Plus, all we three women are staring at our smartphones" laughed another.  Interestingly, she was the youngest of the three.

We develop technologies so that we can avoid human interactions as much as possible?  Is that what "progress" has come to mean?  If this is the future we are headed towards, where we do everything possible to eradicate human contact, then I surely do not want to be a part of it.

Yes, this hermit is not into socializing.  But, I have a deep and ongoing relationship with humanity, with an existential struggle of trying to understand what it means to be human.  All these technological razzle-dazzle is not helping me figure my own raison d'etre.

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