Are kiosks bad for human interaction?

Category:  Opinions
Thursday, October 4th, 2018 at 8:59 AM

In collaboration with the ideas of Charles Darwin, Auguste Comte, a paramount leader in sociology, defines models of social change by simply stating that human societies will progress into using scientific methods. Just over 200 years later, our society has come to see this belief to be true as the intermingling of technology and scientific advancement flourish. For example, the evolution of face-to-face product exchange. No longer are we relying on in-person retail workers and fast food cashiers to take our order or cash us out, we simply bypass human interaction and glue our eyes onto kiosks and screens to obtain said product. However, is this new wave of social change detrimental to our social connection with others, or is it the much needed push to obtaining a new way of interaction?

To delve deeper into this predicament, I would like to address a company called Instacart, whose platform is similar to the idea of a kiosk in a store. Instacart is a service that delivers groceries to your front door. This company was founded on July 12, 2012 by Apoorva Mehta, the current CEO. In addition, this company is located in San Francisco, California; yet, their services are in 44 states. Instacart’s mission statement is as follows: “Every day at Instacart we use technology to solve seemingly impossible problems in the real world.”

I found this company’s mission to be worthy of the ample amount of time and effort I spent in understanding the varying aspects of how it works. Moreover, the surplus of potential economic and social benefits it has to offer is well worth sharing with the public.

 Instacart aids to bridge the gap on lack of accessibility for vulnerable populations, such as the disabled population. For example, in Erie alone, those who are disabled and may not have access to transportation to get groceries was 11.1 percent between 2012-2016. A huge appeal to Instacart is the convenience of the system due to the ability to order online, have it delivered within an ideal time-frame and on your doorstep. The access and speed aspect of Instacart is uncanny in regard to the fact that you can place an order anywhere and your order is received at the store instantaneously. This specific feature saves you driving time and time wasted browsing the aisles. 

Yet, Instacart is also practical if you are too sick, busy or for any other reason unavailable to go shopping. Although there is a technological element to the system, that learning curve can be taught to the older population who can capitalize on this service. This is important to our local area due to fact that the older populations have increased in Erie. The median age is 39.3 years old in 2017, compared to 38.6 years old in 2010. From an economic standpoint, Instacart provides business opportunities to more than 500,000 customers across the nation and over 135 partnerships with grocery retailers such as Whole Foods, Costco, and Wegmans. Instacart states: “By the end of the next year, 80 percent of American households will be able to use Instacart.” The job of a personal shopper is beneficial to the community’s development and personal growth as it provides flexible hours and you can earn from $10 to $25 an hour depending on how busy your work days are. 

Due to this company and Comte’s theory of social change, my view on kiosks in stores has drastically altered. I believe the reduction of human interaction in the traditional format is not a risk factor for our youth because we are developing new ways to serve and interact with diverse individuals. Also, this new social model promotes inclusivity for outcasted members in our society, such as those who have anxiety and a multitude of disabilities. 

We must embrace the fact that we have created a world where we are constantly searching for the next best thing or a more efficient way to live and work, but that doesn’t mean we are erasing years of social connection, interaction or knowledge. 

Joallie Paluchak can be reached at voices.spectator@gmail.com.

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