Matt Baer pens an ode to the checkout line, and while the connection he feels to how “this tiny little comment from a real-live person … would yank me out of my head” is a valid and very human thing, and while he’s right about how the increasing shift toward self-checkout turns us into “a worker, a cashier, a bag boy, an Instacart-er and Uber Food driver”, it’s important to remember the other human perspective of those who often need that machine and need not to “look into another person’s eyes” or “strike up a small conversation”. To be fair, Baer doesn’t come out and argue for the elimination of self-checkout but he does urge us to “use technology to augment our humanity, rather than replace it”. That only raises the issue of whose humanity? (Side note: once upon a time you couldn’t even shop for yourself.) Baer is wrong to label what he feels about checkout lines as “romanticism”; it’s surely more of a humanism. A fully-formed humanism would do two things when it comes to checkout lines: respect workers and the right to work, and respect all customers—those who need the personal touch and those who need to do it themselves.

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Hello. My name is Bix. @bix