How to Relate to People More than Things

Nov 10, 2020 by Tom Pyke

Do you prefer to use an ATM rather than wait in line to talk with a bank teller?  Do you prefer to check yourself out at the grocery store rather than wait in line for a grocery clerk to ring things up and bag groceries?  If so, you may be on well on your way to relating to things more than people.  It is likely that you are also being pushed even more into relating to things and not people as we all adapt to living in the Covid era.  


Avoiding People


What happens when we avoid people more and more while we interact with our smartphones and ATMs and automated gas pumps and other high-tech inanimate things?  We may be on our way to losing some of our social skills, our ability to talk to and work amicably with other people.  Many people were already in danger as they watched hours of TV rather than interacting with family, friends, and other people.  Other folks have been attached at the hip to their smartphones, laptops and desktops, with much less personal contact with other people than in the past. And some people, especially younger men, have become addicted to gaming, which has the potential to disrupt their ability to have normal social interactions with others.


Technology has enabled what we could call a two prong attack on personal social interactions.  First, we use tech tools to accomplish things rather than interacting with people to get them done.  Second, we use technology as a medium for interaction with other people, using email, texting, or social media to interact with other people, but losing intimacy in the process.


Avoiding Covid


Recently, the precautions we have been told to take to prevent us from catching or spreading Covid have driven us to avoid person-to-person contact. Talking while wearing a facemask just isn’t the same, even more so when we are socially distant from others.  We also try to avoid contact with “high touch” surfaces as we learn to live with Covid around us, staying away from surfaces that other people are likely to have touched.  Day by day, more of the automated tools we use, such as credit card readers, are contactless, so we don’t have to sanitize our credit cards after someone else has handled them or after they have been inserted into a credit card reader that has been in contact with other credit cards.  We also welcome automatic doors, so we don’t have to sanitize our hands after manually opening a door.


Becoming Disconnected from the Real World


As we use technology to perform daily chores rather than interact with people and as we avoid contact with others so we don’t catch Covid, we are becoming disconnected from the real world. We often substitute technology for in-person interaction. By doing so, we may begin to relate more to technology than to people  Banks and retailers encourage us to disengage from people by installing ATMs, automated gas pumps, and self-checkout lines in grocery stores, because it saves them money when we help ourselves rather than rely on tellers or retail cashiers.


A Challenge to You to Reach Out to People


So we are challenged in our lives to continue to relate to people, while taking advantage of technology to perform tasks better without human help and, also, to avoid unnecessary exposure that may result in catching Covid.  How we we do this?

  • Whenever possible, reach out to people, to say “hi” when you are near them, even if you don’t know them.
  • Be kind to people. Whenever possible, say “thank you” to anyone who has helped you, like the barista and other folks behind the counter who have prepared your mobile order.  Be sure to compliment them, too.
  • Try not to avoid people!  Be open and more “talkative” than usual in your texts and emails, and maybe even make a phone call once in a while! A little small talk can go a long way to open up our lines of communication to each other.
  • Try to understand other people, what motivates them, and what concerns them.

These are some of the ways you can reach out to people and not succumb to the pressures that may push us to relate more to technology rather than to people.