The Dehumanizing of Western Societies

This past week our alarm system sounded the alert that it was not working properly.  It was connected to an line phone problem.  Shortly after the phones went dead.  Patty was able to get the phone repair service to restore the lines.  Yet, soon after the alarm system again sent the beep that it was not working.  Now we had to contact the alarm company.  After about ten different recordings in Hebrew, Patty left a message for them to call back.  They did, and a repair person will come to our home Sunday.  When we bought our first home in Israel, 2005, we were able to call the alarm company and get a person quite easily.  We even had the phone of one of the repairmen, Dror, who was friendly and helpful.  Now it is frustrating and impersonal.  Yes, it saves the company money, but we would rather pay a little more and talk to a person.   We have such menus, but not this bad, with our health service. 

Last month I had grand-parenting time with two of my grandkids.  I asked what they would like to do.  It was to go to McDonald’s for chicken nuggets and fries.  We went to our local mall.  One now must order on a screen.  There are few workers and it you miss something it is very hard to correct it.  Extra salt or ketchup please?   Again, this was so much less personal. 

I find this in business after business, our insurance companies, other service providers and now most fast-food restaurants.  Thank God I can still call the private cell phone of my investment counselor. 

More recently I read how young people are texting instead of talking to friends. The nuanced inflections are lost.  And some young people don’t meet as many people but only meet them in games on the internet.   They only know people by such electronic means.  Many do not meet and know intimate friendships in person.

We also read that many will lose their jobs in the future to robots.  This could be a terrible problem.  

I think our societies need a new consensus that there will be parameters for free enterprise.  These parameters will limit maximum profit as the only criteria.  Just as environmentalists seek to limit businesses in environmental damage, so we can limit business and government in humanistic damage.  Maybe there will be a limit to computer service menus.  This should  apply as well to government services. Maybe robots will  be limited and developed at a pace to not kill millions of jobs. Maybe parents will be given new tools to limit their children’s computer and game time and to foster in person activities in sports and the arts.  Can we as those who believe we are created in God’s image press for limiting the present trends of dehumanization?