The Price of Convenience: Loss of Connection and Relationship

With a few keyboard strokes, you have it; whatever it is.  A book, groceries, someone to clean your home…  And, at such a convenient price,too!  What’s the rub?  How about loss of connection and relationship? 

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From a Washington Post article last week about Homejoy (h/t to Jarche for the link), a cleaning services web start-up.

…That’s the trade-off in moving toward independent contracting in the service economy, where people order services online just as they would order batteries or a pair of shoes. Homejoy is pitched toward younger people with disposable income who may feel awkward about using domestic help; clients don’t have to interact with the cleaner if they don’t want to, which makes it feel as though they’re ordering a product, not human labor.

Aside from the financial benefit, to buyer, service provider, and broker, something is lost.  We lose our direct connection and relationship to each other.  Lost opportunity.  As these losses accumulate, its easy to become insensitive to  our common humanity.  There is risk is letting others do your work.

Exhibit one…  I opt to buy a print book from Amazon; one that’s also available from my local, independent bookstore.   All for the sake of convenience.  The book will arrive in 5 days from Amazon.  It’ll take 2 weeks, through an order, with my local bookstore.  I get the book. I lose the personal connection and relationship with my neighbours.  Do I really want to make this a habit, even when I’m not rushed for the book? 

Choose to interact

There are many ways to choose to be more “human” in your interactions; e.g., 

  • Get out of your office and meet your customers, face-to-face.  Get to know their story; their life first-hand.  There’s no turning back once you do.  A major shift in my worldview happened, many years ago, after spending time in the “Third World”.  At the time, I thought I was on a travel adventure.  Little did I realize…
  • If your community is online, engage with them through social media.  Make a connection, even if, especially if, you’re the CEO. 
  • Purchase locally-made produce, from the farmer, at the farmer’s market.  You don’t have to belong to BALLE to do that (though its a good connection to have). 
  • Volunteer with, instead of, or in addition to, making a financial donation, to your favourite social agency.  

Oh, I could write a book on this topic.   And, no doubt, many have been written.

It’s easy to separate; as some corporations do, through externalizing their costs.  The greater cost, though, is one of lost connection and relationship.  Priceless.

How do you choose when to “interact”, up close?


[Photo credit: vasabii on]

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