We cannot despair of humanity, since we ourselves are human beings. (Albert Einstein)
I had a disturbing experience yesterday; I met a fellow human being. Being of the older generation I do have memories of such interactions, but I had thought them to be firmly in the past.
I enjoy a healthy diet, but all my food supplies are ordered on-line. The website knows me and offers me my usual selection, with the possibility of adding or deleting any items. It is the work of a few moments to complete the order which turns up on my doorstep at a time of my convenience. I am, of course, alerted to its arrival by an SMS message to my smart phone. By the time I open the door, the delivery man has gone.
Similarly, I enjoy cheeses from a cheese speciality shop. I can choose from a wide selection of boxes, each containing a variety of cheeses. This saves me the trouble of wondering which cheese to buy. Again, the box is delivered to my house and I never see the delivery man, or perhaps it is a woman, I wouldn’t want to jump to conclusions.
Like most of us, I enjoy quality time with my grandchildren. We meet on screen through the wonders of Zoom. It would be nice to actually touch them, but I do try to give them lessons in life. Like all the important people we see interviewed in their homes, I make sure that my background is a bookcase crammed with the books that I have never read, and my Playboy collection is well out of sight.
I had a rash on my arm. Luckily, my skin doctor had already sent me details of his new service – a quick photo of the affected area, sent from my smartphone, brought an on-line prescription that I passed to the pharmacy’s website. A short time later a package from the pharmacy had hung itself, apparently without human intervention, on the front gate.
A long time ago, I would enjoy a morning stroll to the local newspaper shop and a chat with the owner. Yes, you youngsters, there used to be shops that sold newspapers. Nowadays, of course, the newspapers are all on-line. Like my supermarket, the newspapers are quick to spot my interests and show me want I want to see; no distractions from unwanted stories.
I remember a time when, whether I needed to or not, I would roll down my car window at a traffic light and ask for directions. It passed the time while waiting for the light to change. Not any more. We have Waze to direct us and I’m not sure that the windows can be opened, it upsets the air-conditioning.
So, you can imagine my surprise, anxiety, and trepidation when I found myself face-to-face with a real live human being. What was I supposed to do? What was the protocol? Without a button to click I was left without a clue as to the correct SOP, Standard Operating Procedure.
I was in my front garden. The flowers, ordered online from the garden center that is now closed to the public, had been delivered a week or so ago and were coming along nicely. I would soon be able to send some photos to all my many Facebook friends. The human, a stranger to me, started to speak. “Have you seen my dog?” He asked.
This made no sense to me. Of course, like most people I do have a dog. I use Virtual Pets for Google Chrome although there are many other websites offering a virtual animal of your choice. But why would this stranger want me to see his virtual pet?
It was all too much, I had had enough human contact for the day, if not the week. I quickly slammed the large re-boot button that, in the olden days, was known as the front door and started a session with my on-line psychiatrist.