How are those virtual merchant relationships working for you?

The Internet has made life easier in many ways. Buying online, especially if you live miles from merchants allows your Walden experience to exist; for the rest of us, we text instead of call, we like your Instagram pic or Facebook post instead of meeting for coffee or lunch to catch up on how we are doing, looking into your friends eyes to see how their soul is. We buy a part online to fix our car, then watch a YouTube video to figure out how to install it. These are great things and methods, but only to fill in the gap, not a replacement for asking a neighbor or small independent auto parts store for advice on how to fix your widget. As a nation, we have become more isolated. We now lean more to giving a thumbs up to our relatives new baby instead of calling to congratulate them. How about when we write a nasty review about our latest experience at the local restaurant, never to return instead of politely talking to the manager about our experience so that they can explain that their regular chef was out due to a death in the family, missing the opportunity to express our sadness for their loss.

I am just as guilty in many of these “sins of Internet indifference “, yet just as Scrooge intonated, “I will be a different man. I will keep Christmas in my heart every day of the year”. At my business, we used to use Google Hangouts. I turned it off. I want our small team to talk to one another, not text via Hangouts. We need to have real relationships. Stop what you are doing and TALK TO ME. If we don’t talk, then we don’t have a real relationship. We have some pseudo form of awareness of each other’s existence.

I know you can buy stuff online cheaper, believe me, I own an online business, but it was supposed to be an extension of my local face to face business, not a replacement for it. What we offer our walk in customers is expertise, how to install your widget or let us fix your widget and explain why it broke and what to do in the future. While you are here, talk to me about your kids, your struggles with whatever you feel comfortable talking about and I will listen. Maybe God will whisper a few words of wisdom in my ear that I can share with you. Maybe we will share a joke and experience the joy of laughter. I just know that both of us will be richer for having taken the time to talk face to face and rebuilding that community that is quickly evaporating in our world.

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