I love Amazon.
I know that’s a that’s a controversial thing to say. Amazon pays its staff terribly and treats them even worse. They’ve helped kill bricks-and-mortar “mom and pop” retail stores. Their CEO, Jeff Bezos, is a swivel chair and fluffy cat away from being a Bond villain. But boy, do they know how to ship a product.
No matter what I want – say, a DVD set of 70s sci-fi show Space 1999 or a ladies’ size Incredibles T-shirt – both of which are actual recent purchases – I can find it, add it to my cart and have it shipped the second I think of it. A couple of days later – sometimes even the very next day – it’s at my door, like magic.
What a time to be alive. Any product you want, any time, in the palm of your hand, in a transaction that takes just seconds, with no human contact involved.
'It’s not just Amazon that excels at impersonal transactions.
Just this morning, I got a speeding ticket. After I got through using the Donald Trump defense with the police officer (This is a TOTAL WITCH HUNT. I wasn’t speeding and even if I was speeding, speeding isn’t illegal. NO SPEEDING. YOU’RE THE SPEEDING) he politely informed me I could pay my ticket online. Which I did, and thought “Yay government . . . good for you. Way to cash in on this,” as I watched the money fly out of my bank account – which I also have on an app.
But it doesn’t stop there.
The other thing that’s been given the Amazon “add to cart” treatment is dating.
Now, I don’t date anymore – something I prayerfully and thankfully remember very often. But if I did, the world has changed since I left the dating pool. For example, Tinder has become a thing.
For those who don’t know – Tinder is an app for your phone that lets you like (swipe right) or dislike (swipe left) other people’s pictures, and allows both of you to chat if you both swiped to the right (a match). It’s a big part of hookup culture – where casual sexual encounters, including but not limited to one-night stands, are encouraged and emotional bonding or long-term commitment isn’t an expectation. Tinder is basically the “add to cart” of sex.
Leaving aside any moral issues anyone might have with this for a moment (and I realize that’s hard) consider what this says about our humanity. We – as a species – have arrived at the place where we use the same technology to order a half-chicken dinner from Swiss Chalet that we use to find intimacy.
Times change. I get that. No one thinks it’s appropriate to show up in a seersucker suit and slicked-back hair, clutching a bouquet of fresh-cut daisies and offering your calling-card to a date’s father while saying “Is Annabelle in, please sir, I’ve come a’ courtin’.” As the saying goes, “Ain’t nobody got time for that.” We all lead busy lives, and dating apps create efficiency. They make it easier to sort through and find people. And some would say that if two consenting adults um . . . consent . . . to such a thing, where is the harm?
Like so many things, at its root, this is a spiritual issue. Are we human beings – created in the image of the divine, possessed of souls and free will and purpose? Or are we an à la carte item on a menu – a commodity to be purchased and discarded? Because if Marshall McLuhan was right, and the medium really is the message, then the message that we’re sending by using the same medium to find companionship that we use to find collectable Star Wars glasses is that we don’t value each other very much, at all.