The morning started with mediation and breakfast before heading out to a few appointments.
First stop, the bank where I needed to exchange Euros for US Dollars and get some additional cash for the weekend.
Inside the branch my teller, Derek inquires "Do you have your ATM Card, it would be quicker for you"
I let Derek know that I don't carry my card and I have my ID.
Nearing the end of the transaction Derek informs me that soon I'll be able to use Apple Pay at ATMs. "Soon you will be able to walk up to any ATM with your watch or phone and get cash!"
I pause, consider telling Derek, that is his job being replaced, and opt to smile and thank him instead.
Upon arriving at my second stop, FEDEX, I go to the "ready print" counter. The employee asked for my name and pulls my print job out and carefully slips it out of the bag.
"How is your order?", she smiles and blinks.
"The order is beautiful, thank you for doing such a great job on it", I softly say.
With an autonomous tone she states, "Well, you used our online print system, it should be perfect every time and you don't need to talk to anyone!"
The sinking feeling of a day driven by automation and commerce crawls into my gut.
My veterinary office is tucked away on a small alley in Brentwood, Tennessee.
I was relieved to see no line, no waiting room full of people or dog pile up near the front door.
Sitting behind the front desk are three cheerful employees.
"Hi, I need to make an appointment, get a refill and ask a question."
I can sense my speech is starting become crisp, short and to the point, my perfectly formed tweet talk, is music to most people's ears.
Immediately all three employees go to work on my requests as if I just hit "Print" on the task bar of the veterinary office!
Simultaneously they were working on each other's tasks and their own task.
They each asked me for additional information as if the others request and employees did not exist, just a few feet away.
They worked independent and co-dependent of each other, like any great multi-tenant cloud platform.
I was starting to feel frustrated with the request and the speed at which I was being “processed”
Looking directly at the middle employee and smiling warmly I asked,
"Can I close your browser tab for a moment?"
They looked at each other, paused and laughed, only to return to their screens and hyper efficiency.
Again, I paused and looked directly at the person in front of me, “I feel overwhelmed, do you notice what is happening?”
She looked up and said, “It's more efficient this way and our customers enjoy feeling of being served faster”
I left the vet and headed to my lunch appointment.
My car already had the address from my iPhone in the navigation system using Apple's "Car Play"
A playlist suggested is called "Afternoon driving" and I accepted it and drove off keeping an eye on the real time fuel consumption gauge in my car.
Stop lights are the perfect chance to check Grindr, Tinder and Scruff to see if anyone new is in the area to possible start a conversation with or ask out to dinner.
Pulling in to the Starbucks near my lunch appointment, I notice the line of cars wrapped around the building, it's 1045am caffeine levels need to be refilled.
As I walk into the store, I'm greeted a sign pointing to the counter of full of people. The sign reads "Skip this line, use mobile order and pay"
As I scan the recently flipped "Taco Bell" I notice people hovered over their screens, apple watches strapped to their wrists, phones just inches away from their laptops. Ear buds masking their noise.
Cables, cords, bags, backpacks filling every spare chair, table top and corner.
Each laptop monitor filled of windows and tabs, broadband pumping into their minds, their bodies their souls.
As I place my order, I can feel the people behind me, sneering at the inefficacy at which I navigate the menu, transaction and my own indecision as I search for popcorn that isn't 35 grams of sugar and a drink with no caffeine.
The cashier instructs me to swipe my credit card, then use my chip, then hit the green button, I'm being forced through a retail transaction with the vengeance of a hostage negotiation on mothers day.
I can't even look up from the terminal to thank him.
As I walk away, the young lady behind me says,
"Next time, you can use the app and you won't have to pay or talk to anyone, it's amazing!"
I gazed deeply in her eyes and said, I miss “talking to people” and I enjoy seeing my money.
Slowly I make my way to a table where I open my laptop and record the events of the past hour, feverishly run spell check and slam it on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook.
On the heels of a string of text messages I received all morning from my lunch date, informing me of her schedule, moment to moment, my cell vibrates and says
"I'm running late, my hairdresser is late can we move our lunch to 12:30?"
I look back at my laptop, open a new tab and go back to work being distracted until I'm required to be fully present for the next transaction in my life.
I’ve spent the better part of eight years, hooked up to every sensor, recording system and computer you can think of.
I’ve optimized every part of my life, I’m thinner, richer, kinder, faster, smarter and more wise.
Technology can shape you, but what shape will you be?
I fear we may have crossed into a world where people are mimicking the systems they use.
I worry that people no longer understand how it feels to be manipulated by multiple systems.
I hope, I am wrong.