Our modern world has become obsessed with do-it-yourself everything. From getting gasoline to checking yourself out at the grocery store to booking your own flights to wherever – you are put in the driver’s seat.
Now don’t get me wrong. I like the freedom of choice just as anyone else. But our current ability to do virtually everything ourselves has replaced those days when service providers actually, well, provided service. Now it’s all automated and if you struggle with following directions (as I do), you’re up the river without a paddle.
Besides, what is really behind all this DIY-ing is the need for speed while cutting costs. How many of us actually go into a bank today and retrieve cash from a bank teller? As I kid, I used to love getting those lollipops after a bank transaction. No ATM in the world can offer you that.
Somehow I feel all this automation has simply cheapened the experience of life.
Not that I am complaining too much about the freedom of choice we get to enjoy today. I greatly appreciate our manifest destiny of selection in many areas, such as which airline to fly with or which health care provider best suits my needs. But sometimes DIY simply sucks. It’s exhausting and confusing and I’d really rather leave certain decisions up to the professionals.
Do I sound like a total slacker? Bear with me now.
Our DIY mania has really gone too far. I like to be served, not because I like to treat people as servants, but because I trust that they know more than I do about certain things. Call me crazy, but don’t medical professionals have a better understanding of, say, health matters than I do?
For the first time in my life, I was recently asked to measure my own blood pressure by following the instructions in the waiting room at my doctor’s office. Eyes peering over my shoulder as I struggled with the arm cuff, I knew the stress of it alone would give me inaccurate readings.
It did. I mean, who can really relax when a half-dozen other patients are watching you? It felt a little bit like those machines you find in almost every supermarket in Florida — the median age of whose population exceeds 40 — where you insert your arm into a ring that squeezes you tight while it spews off your diastolic and systolic stats.
I’m not sure why taking my own blood pressure bothered me so. It really wasn’t that hard. But another modicum of privacy and care flew out the window with the doctor’s office’s self-service demand.
The philosophy behind DIY is you get to choose. And if you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you will know that my philosophy around The Power of Slow also centers upon the notion of choice.
We get to choose how we spend our time. For the most part.
But somehow I’ve begun to get the sense that there is little choice in the way things are set up today. I actually cancelled a car insurance policy this month because it was online and had no customer service. All in the name of “cheaper rates” (I found an even cheaper rate with a competitor who had a super-friendly customer service dude who won over my heart instantly).
Never underestimate the power of human connection.
I would have been willing to pay more just to have the ability to talk to someone when I needed help.
If I am forced to do all these tasks on my own, it is no wonder I am as tired as I am sometimes. Are you with me on this one?
What we need is more human touch in all things. So reach out and hug someone today. Hugging (and kissing) are two things that you certainly cannot do yourself!