Even though the phrase is a tagline for one of the most unfriendly companies in the world, I still believe “the future is friendly.” But every now and then something happens to say that we should temper technology with some respect for tried-and-true tradition.
It’s one thing to move on and something else to move away from values that long ago earned their place beside the latest “advances.” Accepting a new thing shouldn’t have to be at the expense of an old one.
Here’s a case in point:
I had Sushi a few nights ago with a good friend at a charming place neither of us had been before. Our long-anticipated evening of trading stories and telling what we’d been up to was fueled by fine food and an attentive waiter. All good things come to an end and in time the bill arrived. In the familiar “let me get this one” rite that followed, my companion’s generosity won out over my own.
She produced her Platinum card and the conversation turned to when we’d meet again to make up for lost time.
We were sadly interrupted.
The waiter arrived with a cumbersome mechanical box into which he inserted my friend’s plastic. The machine refused to accept it. Something to do with chip vs. swipe. The second card, down a notch to Gold, worked. My sight and technology challenged companion now had to decide whether or not to tip, and to choose between a percentage and an amount.
Enjoy the spider roll, but don’t forget to do the math.
As the evening drew to an awkward close, I squirmed in sympathy, having been in the same situation myself. A miracle of micro and nanotechnology had wedged its way between old friends. We’d been drawn away from the best part of our conversation in the name of science.
We owe it to ourselves to be conscious of the trade-off between seeming convenience and simple humanity. The rush to do things because we can should not win over doing them the way we want to. We should try to remain the masters and not the servants of technology.
As fine as the food was, I won’t return to the sushi place with the cashier-in-a-box. Instead, I’ll go for a little less taste and a bit more grace.