Liquid Footprints

Vending Machine Relationships

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Lately it seems people just want to get something out of each other. Heck, even religion has a vending machine mentality. Just put in your time in the pew and prayers and God will plop out something from the G4 rack.

Goodwill seems a currency anymore. Many people seem to do good only for their own benefit. This certainly isn’t good motivation! Helping people shouldn’t be motivated by self gain; it should be motivated by the other person’s happiness.  You see the coins enter the God machine on the corner in the same way. People serve a religion just for what they will get out of it.  Consumerism is everywhere!

It may seem odd that I lumped religion in with relationships, but in both cases people are relating to something. How people relate to God often reveals how they relate to other people when they do believe in a God. If they view God as a vending machine, why wouldn’t they view “lesser” beings in the same way? That was one of my biggest irks with the church I used to attend. They acted as if attending worship and study whenever you were sick or sacrificing something earned more brownie points to cash in when you die. If you don’t have enough points you won’t make it to heaven. So better rack up those points by attending no matter what and disparaging denominations. Put in your time and God will answer your prayers more often too.

I see the same mentality with how people relate to each other.  Both sides seek to get something from the other by putting in their coins. Coins include flowers, cards, jewelry, trips, time, and other things. What happened to just doing something for the sake of the other person’s happiness? I personally just like a smile in return but don’t even look for that.

Consumerism is rotting American society. Arguably customer service is as well. In both people seek only their own gain after dropping in their coins of time or money. Customer service can ease suffering but too often it only propagates the infantile gimmies people have.  Consumerism has seemingly leached into every aspect of thinking including relationships. If you have the means you can attain. Sadly that seems to include buying off other people in a myriad of ways. I know I am guilty of thinking of people as vending machines time to time.  Of course, it is just one facet behind why vending machine relationships exist.

We also have forgotten how to communicate deeply. Good communication is hard. Listening deeply is very hard. It is human nature to take the easier path; so we now use coins instead of deep connection to create relationships. We give gifts, pray, sit in pews, and follow the rituals of dating. Often deep connection is lost in the waving lips and arms of the faithful to expectation.

This has become more of a rant than anything insightful or meaningful. Sometimes a rant can be useful to shed some light on negative behaviors. Luckily the solutions can also be found in those behaviors or just the simple awareness of them. As I said, I too am guilty of treating people and God as vending machines. That awareness allows me to avoid that behavior the best I can. Admittedly it is difficult not to expect something in reward for good behavior. The consumerism and meritocracy that pervades the United States really does get in the way of true altruism.

Of course, a smile isn’t necessarily a bad expectation.

Author: Chris

Wanders the world of Japanese culture and library nerdiness.

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