Staying Home, Eating In

I just read an article on Salon.com about the decline of businesses that employ clerks. Amazon is killing the video store, ITunes is killing the record store, and the internet is killing the book store. As these businesses go under then the interaction that we have all had with clerks, like the goofy Jack Black character in the movie “High Fidelity” will be something that never happens.What happens then? I remember a time or two in my life that I ran into new music by talking to the clerk in the record store. I have found the bulk of my reading material by browsing for hours at a book store. Years ago the only way I ever heard of indie movies was by walking the new arrival section at the Blockbuster in my neighborhood. How do I find these things now, without clerks?Well, as far as music goes, I have my wife, who still listens to the local NPR affiliate. She brings new music into our life that way. I’m not sure how new music gets passed to the people that would like it, but that doesn’t have a wife who listens to the radio. I don’t listen to the radio any more. I used to listen to NPR for the news, but since it has turned out that our Democrat President is more a black Republican than a Democrat I can’t stand to listen to the news any more. No hip-hop radio for me. No oldies rock radio either. How does ITunes help out new musicians?Books I have managed to get by just using online magazines like Slate and Salon to alert me to content that I like. Sometimes I would find a title by browsing the airport news stands. There aren’t too many book stores around any more that I can waste time in while the wife shops at the mall. Life is changing.Finding movies has changed a lot, but we all hear about the next blockbuster movie because that industry is still very good at getting unearned media. The stars still go on the talk shows. Finding movies never really needed clerks in my world.A world without clerks, though will be a world where there is one less thing for those just starting out in the US to do for money while they mature into a real job. More and more the US is becoming a place where the only job is something that is completely out of the public sphere. No clerks means no way to consume something like movies or books from outside your home. You have to have a computer to read or watch or listen. Its kind of hard to imagine that world, really. Even though I do most of my watching and listening over the internet, its hard to imagine that if I chose not to do it that way that I would have to do without.Should we have seen this coming when the gas stations made us start pumping our own gas? When the “Self-Checkout” lane showed up at Walmart should we have rebelled and stood up for the humans that this was displacing? How can all of this actually be less expensive than a minimum wage clerk? Who gets that 7.50 per hour now? I can’t imagine what is next. I already hear that they are automating X-ray reading. They are sending some pretty amazing work overseas to be done by even lower wage workers. At least that work is still being done by humans. The thing that is really missing when we get rid of clerks is the humanity of the interaction. We are dealing less and less with our fellow humans. Im not getting out into the neighborhood as often any more. I am losing more of my humanity in the internet transactions that I am choosing.Think about it and comment.

About dcarmack

I am an instrument technician at the electric utility servicing the Kansas City Missouri metropolitan area. I am in the IBEW, Local 412. I was trained to be a nuclear power plant operator in the USN and served on submarines. I am a Democrat, even more so than those serving in Congress or the White House.
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