There’s a simple concept that has been lost with our new world of technology.
Genuine, face-to-face human connection.
As a millennial, I appreciate and advocate for the benefits technology provides to society while also remembering the times of my youth where choosing an outdoor game of hide and seek in the cornfields sounded more exciting than gluing my eyes to a screen in my parent’s basement for hours on a beautiful fall day.
One aspect of our society that brings in human connection through technology is ride-hailing companies, requested from your smartphone.
When choosing my transportation to and from airports this week while on a trip to Florida, I chose to take an Uber from the airport to my hotel. I chose this partly out of convenience of not having planned a shuttle service earlier and partly out of knowing I’d be paying for a worthwhile human interaction.
I wasn’t disappointed.
I met Antonio, who came smiling with a long salt-and-pepper beard accompanied appropriately by a Santa hat in the 80-degree Florida afternoon. Being a young woman ingesting tons of recent news about sexual assault numbers reported (or not) from the ride service, I took a few extra steps to ensure my safety but held to my naive belief that most people are good and hopped in the front seat confidently.
Antonio went on and on about where I was headed, popular tourist spots, how he recently moved from Texas to Florida to retire and what that looked like, a thorough update on the Trump impeachment from his perspective, and I even got a linguistics lesson from a native Spanish-speaking Puerto Rican. I ate it up. People willing to share personal anecdotes is a true gift these days, and I believe it could be useful in a lot more contexts than an Uber ride.
Taking public transportation — and especially something as intimate as Uber or Lyft — reveals the true American story. Every driver I’ve come across has a unique tale of working for a degree in finance, retired and looking to keep busy or adding extra income in addition to another driving job for high profile members of society.
I think this element of connection through something as simple as an extended cab ride alone reiterates our need for human interaction. While it may not turn into a lifelong, soul-feeding relationship, it helps us understand what the world looks like beyond our own backyard.
I hope and strive to replicate these random, cultural, invigorating conversations on a local level, too, through more genuine, random outreach to people on the street, standing next to me in line for coffee or washing hands in a public restroom. I hope you’ll join in the effort to connect better, too.