I’m wondering if we’re on a track of losing the personal touch in life. The evolution over the past two or three decades of how we live life and do business seems like a “de-personalization of humanity.” In some ways, I suppose, it has prepared us for our current pandemic.

Some of these impersonal parts of life have become common for me. Modern life has many conveniences for our busy lives. The other night, I fueled up my truck. I pulled into the gas station, inserted a credit card into the slot on the pump, waited a moment for processing and then filled the tank. It was just me and the machine. The place was closed and dark otherwise. There was no human interaction in the transaction.

Other aspects of our lives have evolved to the same humanless condition. Banking, for example, is becoming more and more of an activity which requires little, if any, personal human interchange. Deposits can be made by taking pictures of checks on our smart phones and sending the image to the bank. Bank by mail and night deposit drops are still available, but fewer people are actually physically going to their financial institution on a regular basis anymore. Online banking is commonplace now.

Being the old-fashioned guy that I am, I still like going into the bank. It’s a little weird that these days wearing a mask into the bank is the right thing to do. As someone told me the other day, “Who knew that someone not wearing a mask would be the person who looked suspicious?”

The human touch is diminishing more and more in life as automation, as a cost saving and efficiency measure, continues to be maximized. Speed has become a higher priority than the aesthetics of person to person contact.

Our home life and even the architecture of our houses reflect the trend toward isolation from other people. Many have the attitude that once they get home from work, they are to be withdrawn from humanity. They don’t want to hear the doorbell or phone ring.

Houses aren’t built as often now with a front porch designed to invite visitors and sociability. “Porchsitting” has almost become a lost art. If we’re going to be outside, we’d rather be in the back yard where we can have our privacy.

Last Sunday afternoon, on a chilly day, the sun seemed to be shining relatively warmly for a while. (there’s a contradiction in terms) With the goal of absorbing some Vitamin D, I sat on the front porch and read several pages in a murder mystery novel. (Blackberry Crumble by Josi Kilpack, a Utah novelist)

I was perfectly comfortable with my sleeves rolled up and my face toward the sun… for about seven minutes. Then I was freezing to death. But the point of this episode is to say that I had friendly waves with two people as they drove by. It was a mini-social event!

It seems like our current normal lives consist of retreating into our “caves” where we sit numbly, in semi-darkness, in front of our televisions. Dozens of TV channels and streaming options enhance our ability to avoid contact with the outside world. Most of us do it. “Binge watching” TV shows is commonplace.

For the person who wants to visit another human being or family, it’s becoming almost intimidating. (Even before the pandemic) We’re fearful that we’ll interrupt someone’s movie or TV show.

Many years ago, the LDS Church created a program establishing an organized method of everyone in the congregation getting a visit from other members. The goal was, and still is, that everyone gets regular contact and has a friend who cares about them. Sometimes, it’s an uphill battle to get high levels of participation in the program. People don’t seem to know how to visit others.

Sanpeters, I believe, are a step above the rest of the world. Maybe I’m looking at our Sanpete life through “rose colored glasses.” But, I feel like we are a bastion of good old-fashioned people who care about our friends and neighbors.

In spite of Covid-19, let’s keep our Sanpete personal relationships connected as best as we can. Hopefully before too long, we’ll be able to get back to doing more things “normally.

There is no totally satisfying substitute for the common sharing of emotions and feelings in three dimensional, live and in person events. Hang in there Sanpete! — — Merrill

P.S. We went to the movies a couple of weeks ago at the theater in Ephraim. We were socially distanced and wearing masks — when we weren’t eating popcorn. It felt good to do something “semi-normal” again!