Rage Against the RED Machine

So yesterday I went into something called a “Video Rental Store.” It must be some new concept the whiz kids in Hollywood are trying out. Instead of a reddish box there are people, and instead of waiting for my slow Internet to buffer, I just drive there and come back. It’s crazy! I’m not sure if it will really work.

Of course the main issue isn’t usually time and convenience as much as it is price.

This whole movie rental business has changed so dramatically in just a couple years, all the name brands I’ve grown up with have practically disappeared, or are on their way out. There really is no choice, you can either change your whole business structure or retire to Florida and rent VHS to the elderly.

This “Rental Store” that I went to was not only renting at a dollar, but a dollar for five nights. Beat that you Matrix robots! It really is quite the deal.

So I went into the local rental store and it occurred to me how long it’s been since I’ve ventured into one. It’s amazing. DVDs were lined up everywhere like a library for video entertainment junkies, the employees talked and discussed movies and to top it all off they gave me free popcorn.

As I walked out with a DVD in one hand and popcorn in the other, I looked across the street and saw a Redbox by the grocery store and I couldn’t help but get that strange feeling that those 60’s and 70’s sci-fi short stories about robots taking over the earth and replacing humans in their daily jobs is starting to come true. I thought about those self-check out lanes in some stores (which I love) and other random kiosks that are making everything convenient but at the same time dehumanizing the way we humans live.

Today I went to the bank to withdrawal some cash to pay a bill and when I went and saw the line of 4 people, I went back outside and used the ATM and left without speaking to anybody. Most people love this stuff, but I’m starting to wonder if:

  1. Machines are starting to replace humans in a drastically fast rate. And if so, how should I prepare? Other than watching (or renting) The Matrix.
  2. Human interaction is lost with each new kiosk placed, and if so, how much?
  3. If I got rid of Facebook, how I’d actually have to call my friends.

I don’t really hate Netflix and I’m not a Redbox protestor; I will probably still use it from time to time, regardless of if you have to stand and wait for someone to make their pick, and they have to read every movie description and they can’t figure out which side to slide their card, and they don’t remember their zip code and their email; all while waiting in the cold Idaho winter weather (I’m sure its coming).

I think these businesses offer an amazing service that was created at the right time and hugely benefits all who use it. I’m just starting to wonder what I’m missing out on from bypassing people for convenience.

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4 comments

  1. Its true. We are all becoming desensitized. I don’t know if the change from human to robot is drastically happening but it IS happening. I watched a group of kids cross the street the other day and i felt a little creepy doing so but i noticed, none of them were talking to each other, or racing, or smoking, or doing what high schoolers now a days do when they cross the street. They ALL had ear buds in connected to Ipods. ALL of them lost in their own heads. What are they listening to? what is so important that they can’t look up and talk to each other? or start a band? Human interaction is going to be low from now on.
    But on the other hand, i went into the Bank last week and the lady at the front desk didn’t even say hello. she grabbed my money lifted her eyebrows as if to say “I’ve got your money what do you want me to do with it.” she gave me change then slammed the barrier window shut. I thought well hell even the kiosk says have a nice day on the screen! I guess depending on the mutants we approach everyday we can all use a little less human interaction and face a nice kiosk or two.

    1. Deborah!
      I completely agree. Every time I get bad customer service, the first thing I think is, “you do realize you are being replaced by machines yes?” I can’t wait for robot waiters, at least I wont feel as compelled to tip for bad service.

      And kids, the children! They are constantly on facebook or on their ipods, I see it when I’m at the youth group I volunteer at. They have so much social technology they are really forgetting to be social.

  2. I love how grocery stores have the employee who just stands by the self check-out machines. The employees get the privilege of standing there to make sure that nothing goes wrong with the machines that are making their employment obsolete. Sad.

    1. Aaron you are so right, it’s always a little awkward at those self check out lines. Have you noticed how smart they look and feel when they have to come over and correct a mistake the computer made? They always seem to take their time punching in their “secret code,” it’s all they’ve got really.

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