I’m trying not to leak nostalgia like a 40 year old hippie lady, but sometimes I cannot help noticing how a couple of good, unique things, vanished from the modern society.
Disclaimer: this is not the type of post that praises the vinyl disc or some chemical “strawberry” juice, the energy booster of all the ’90s children. These things got lost on the way to modern life, in spite of being good for us. Their main cause is sharing this planet with over seven billion people. Which actually decreases our individual value, in spite of having more protection than ever (I am only talking about the first world).
Calling a company and being treated like a human, instead of a “call”.
I don’t know if this was just a dream, but I remember a time when you called a company on the phone and a person named secretary answered to you. You asked that woman your question or certain information. The secretary put you on hold (or she would call back) and checked for someone eligible to answer to your question, by transferring the call to another office. Even though you didn’t get your answer from the first shot, you would call the next day or the third day and you would talk to the same woman – who would usually note your name into her agenda.
Today, this is just a fantasy. Calling a company means landing into the call-center nightmare. I call it nightmare because of the reasons:
- You get lucky if you don’t stay on hold for whole minutes, before an operator takes your call;
- Your problem – your particular, unique and sometimes pressing problem! – is just a number into a huge database, classified into a certain category, which has a “Pending” status and everyone is happy only to move it one step closer to the “Solved” status, instead of actually solving it.
- You are only the “annoying client”. Not one single guy from the call center listens to you. They are too busy checking all the points from the client-speech procedure they learned in training. So they would ask you a couple of irrelevant questions only to make sure they are in the clear. But not that they actually helped you.
- If you don’t manage to solve your problem from the first try, next time other guy will take your call. And you get the same starter questions. This can easily happen every time you call them. Sometimes they note a couple of details of your case, but often not. Good luck in explaining the same things over and over again!
- You have to play the piano with your phone keys. Before you get to connect with a human being, usually you pass through a “Robot” phase who wants to know exactly which tiny client box you fit in: For riding Unicorns, press 1. For riding Pink Unicorns, press 2. For riding Pink Unicorns singing the United States national anthem in a really cute way, press 3.
I don’t expect for companies with hundreds of clients to keep a secretary answering the calls. The call centers were a natural evolution and your worth as a client is shared with other hundreds. So your problem is simply nothing to them. But this just makes me regretting the time when you called a company and you were actually listened by someone.
Driving to work through the city (instead of moving from mile to mile)
Is there anyone who lives in a big city and doesn’t spend time in traffic during the rush hour? Nowadays, the drivers have learned special tricks only to avoid spending hours on the streets, in a car line: detouring routes, changing the lanes regularly only to catch the one more fluid or using phone apps to avoid the times and places with serious traffic problems.
There are solutions to adapt into a big city with traffic problems. But I know there was a time when you could drive through the city the entire day just like you drive now only during the night or on the highway (excepting the speed). Those empty streets and bridges, belonging to cities with normal or low population, are gone today.
The traffic jam also turned the proud and elegant act of driving into a daily battle with swearing exchange, honks that are over-used and fighting for parking spots. The pride of owning a car remained but the vehicle slowly loses its efficiency within the big city (especially to subway alternative).
The excitement of anything New
In the past, whether you brought a new object or met a new person, you got the feeling of a new beginning, of fresh and new. Nowadays, most of the objects we buy are changed after relatively short time. Even if it doesn’t break, it is certainly shadowed by a new model that catches the eyes.
As for the new people we meet, the situation is the same. A quick Facebook or Instagram profile check would tell you in an instant what type of people they are. Not mentioning that you can meet any number of new individuals and lose the contact, keeping in touch only on social media. Which is rather sad and not connection-wise at all.
Changing jobs more often also annihilated the idea of friendships at the workplace. Most of the times you don’t get to form any type of relationship at the workplace since you have to leave for something better. There was a time when people had the same job for more than ten years. The office connections were more valuable and deeper and the new connections where also more valuable, since there were fewer occasions and means to create them.
The worst part of all this fluctuation is that we still crave for a deeper connection. We thrive to befriend those who usually have as priority updating their online status instead of contributing to a conversation. Since the illusion of being permanently connected is so strong, everyone started to feel unconsciously this way, even though it is not so. As a result, they don’t put so much value on the person in front of them – the real potential connection – but on the people from their friends lists, who take less effort to interact with.