Talk to a Human. Can Technology Do This?

In Love with Technology

It’s a quiet Monday evening. I’m relaxing in the recliner in my living room, typing on my laptop.

I’m grateful for how far we’ve come with technology. I remember when I used to have to stay seated at our clunky desktop computer near the modem if I needed the internet. Or else tether my laptop to the modem via a long red cord weaving its way through the house to give me portable internet access.

Now I just flip open my laptop or tap on my phone, and voilà.

Tonight I’m signing up my friend for her own internet service. My friend isn’t techy and can’t do it herself.

But thanks to the internet itself, I don’t even have to talk to a person to do it for her.

Just me and the friendly internet bots will get it done tonight, no other humans required.

The Dreaded Dropdown Menu

I have my friend’s information handy, so I easily navigate the first set of questions with her new internet provider. No problem. Type, submit, type, submit.

Until they ask a question I can’t answer. I explain my situation as a representative go-between for my friend.

But the bot doesn’t understand.

It offers me a dropdown menu to solve our problem. But none of the options fit. We’re caught in an endless, hopeless cycle.

I feel the heat rising. I’m now talking out loud to the bot, who of course can’t hear me.

I can no longer sit. I stand up and pace the room as I wait for the internet chat helper to actually help.

Option 1 or 2?

The bot returns, offering a phone number to connect me with their support team. I’m happy.

I dial the number on my phone. But it only gives me a phone tree of options to choose from, none of which are applicable.

I push # to return to the home menu. But the automated voice only repeats the same limited options.

I’m really getting angry now. When I’m offered “For option 1 say yes,” or “For option 2 say no,” instead I say, “I want to talk to a human.”

But no representative comes.

So I say it again, “Talk to a human.” Louder, each time. “Talk to a human! Talk to a human!!!

I’m stuck. This is insanity.

Technology Is Changing Us

Then the miracle happens. A human magically appears on the line with a friendly, “How can I help you?”

The accent is difficult for my southern ear to understand, but that’s okay. It’s another human being, a flesh and blood person who can listen to my situation and who can think beyond an automated messaging script.

I’m thrilled.

We solve the problem. My friend’s internet service will go live in five days.

I click off the phone. I sit back down in my recliner and reflect on my mad behavior over the past hour.

I started as a person who only wanted to type with an internet chatbot; it’d be quicker, less intimidating, more efficient, I had thought.

But now I’m a person who loved nothing more than talking to another person. A person like me.

Technology can do a lot of things for us, thankfully. Maybe technology can even push us closer to other humans.

As a person, I really do like people best.

Talk to a human. Yes. I’m learning. Human is my One Word of the Year, after all. And I’m understanding why—more and more—as the year goes on.

I close my laptop. I put it under my nightstand. We’re disconnecting for the night.

I start a conversation with my husband instead.

Do you prefer texting or calling? Chatbots or in-person?

Share in the comments.

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14 thoughts on “Talk to a Human. Can Technology Do This?

  1. Lynn

    It’s funny how technology was to be more efficient, yet it can be the opposite in some cases! Yes, I like to pick up the phone as it also decreases the chance of misunderstandings. I, too, have been thinking that technology can move us toward more real-life human connection!

  2. David

    I love humans! Robots are ok for simple tasks as long as everything goes well — but even there, interaction with a human can (can!) elevate drudgery into conversation.

  3. Donna Reidland

    That’s an experience we can all relate to! I guess I don’t mind computer bots until I have a problem and then it can be extremely frustrating. Worse yet, you get the ones that say “we’ll get back to you usually within 24 hours.” Sigh!

  4. Jean Wise

    And all this creativity with AI too – i find it a bit unsettling that at different points we won’t know if we are communicating with a real person or a bot. Two sided, isn’t it? can be good or difficult.

  5. Paula Short

    Yes, give me a live person too. I usually say representative or customer service if that doesn’t work sometimes I have luck pressing 0 a few times then it takes me to a live person. The wait times sometimes agitate me when they’re long like an hour. Then I put my phone speaker and do something else while I’m waiting. I will sit down at a kitchen table or diner and talk with all of you guys any day.
    visiting today from Let’s Have Coffee.

  6. Donna

    UGH, technology is great, and I love the ease it brings to my life, but there are times, as you illustrated where a “bot” is useless. Give me a human any day.

    I feel like as good as technology is, it has “de-humanized’ our society.

  7. Linda Stoll

    Lisa, nothing gets me anxious like navigating unfamiliar technology. After almost deleting two websites and actually losing my mailing list, I’m very very wary of tinkering with any innards. I’m afraid that everything would vanish into thin air.

    And I’d be a very unhappy camper.

  8. Barb Hegreberg

    I detest chat-bots.

    By the time I go to a company’s “Contact Us” page, I have already done the research and/or followed all the steps that the chat-bot will likely give me. At that point, I NEED a living breathing human to step in and fix it!

    I’m so glad that God doesn’t use chat-bots! I much prefer going straight to the source.

    One Word #6

  9. Joanne Viola

    Lisa, you brought such a laugh as you describe your conversation with the bot. I, too, find myself getting louder as I request a human, a person, or a customer service agent. As far as we have come, there is still nothing better than a human 🙂

  10. Lynn D. Morrrissey

    I get soooo frustrated w/ those option boxes because one size does NOT fit all humans. I especially am chagrined when it involves a medical E-check in. Not all options fit whatever. I finally chucked the whole thing. And you know what? The earth didn’t stop revolving, and I was admitted to my appointment; the receptionist said they had all the info they needed and I did not need to complete one form! Technology has its wonderful and its woeful applications. But lest we forget, a human created it all to begin w/!

    I love your humanness, Lisa. You were it beautifully.

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