The most avant-garde tendency in big enterprises is the use of the so called “bots” for chatting or answering clients through websites and social media. The fashion word now is “chat-bots”, it is to say, automatic robots, non physical machines but software receiving messages from clients and answering them like a human person would do it.
This has been used for a while in websites and as answering machines for phone calls. Haven’t you ever been despaired by a computer taking your phone call when you where willing to talk to someone at your bank office or any provider of services? These “bots” tell you which number to press if you want such or such option… and you find yourself desperately pressing #0 repeatedly wishing that this will force the computer to transfer your call to a human being.
Present technology trends to upgrade these systems in what the specialists call “artificial intelligence” (AI), an oximoron, by the way. The more this sector develops, more applications are found for daily life.
Many clients, knowing they will be answered by a “bot” at the phone instead of a human being, then try new ways to ensure they are answered by a “someone” and not by “something”. Social Media so far have been managed by community managers, and many clients are prioritizing this mean to contact services and enterprises. Some brands are reporting up to a 60% of clients contacting them through Social Media accounts rather than regular means (telephone or websites). This is due to the human touched flavor of Social Media.
Computing has developed AI to such a point that many companies are starting to use these “bots” to answer messages received through Social Media. The new community managers who will answer your messages through Facebook or Twitter will not be humans anymore, but bots, just a bunch of software installed in a server, and we will hardly realize of it.
It seems we might be talking of Sci-Fi, but it is a fact in nowadays, driving me to reflect in how the social relations are saturated, and how dehumanization is taking over our social relations. We are interposing mechanical (cybernetic) filters that are actually isolating us from each other.
I ask myself, could we try something like this for our Mission, Conference, Union website? Could we programe a bot to answer our Facebook pages in such or that other region? The answer should be NO, at least to the point where a person is deceived thinking is talking to someone.
Furthermore, we may not realize that we can become human bots ourselves. Sometimes I find myself answering mails with a “copy-paste” text, trying to unclog my overloaded Inbox.
Something even saddest happens to us oftenly. When we are stepping out the church after a Sabbath service, we greet each other mechanically: “Happy Sabbath, God bless you”… and we repeat over and over this litany dozens of times in just a few minutes.
As a pastor and communicator, I recognize I have dehumanized me several times. I am not proud of it at all. We should never lose that human touch and warmness, spontaneity and genuine interest in others around us.
The worst scenario is when we become “bots” to speak with our Heavenly Father. We do not repeat the same prayers like other religios or denominations do, but we have our own standarized prayers “preloaded” in our brain-pocket for those moments (yes, you know “those” moments). Even
unconsciously we feel we need to mark a daily checklist where “prayer” appears. We do not relate with God as He deserves, and we devaluate ourselves with such attitude, putting ourselves to he same level as machines. God has given you an infinite value, but we, with our attitude and words transform ourselves in automatons. Besides, we stop relating with our neighbors as they really deserve. We do not realize that we are the most harmed part in this equation. We dehumanize ourselves.
Jesus warned us in Matthew 6:7 “And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words” (NKJV).
Jesus avoided to become a “bot”. He never was, never has been and never will be one. He attended large multitudes as well as one person at a time. When He was preaching in Capernaum (see Mark 2:1-12) received the neighbors, rubber-necks stopping by, enemies, all at once. There was such a multitude that there was no place even for a needle. The house was packed and surrounded outside. It was impossible even to approach a window or the door to ask Jesus for help.
Despite such a crowded situation, He stopped his speech and took advantage of that interruption to assist personally the paralytic. He healed and saved that person dropped from the roof, and at the same time, reveal to those around His divinity in contrast with our humanity.
In another occasion, the disciples acted like “bots” shielding Jesus, rebuking some mothers and their children (see Mark 10:13-14) probably with phrases like “the Master is very tired”, or “He has no time for children”, “He is a very important man and has other priorities…” But our wonderful Jesus didn’t allow the “bots” to firewall him. Se made himself available to them so they could approach him. Jesus never sets barriers nor filters, so anyone might approach him and be reached by Salvation.
As believers, each one of us is in many ways a communicator. We are the modern “community managers” of the Gospel, and the Lord has entrusted us the promotion of Salvation among humankind, the hugest social network. He has commanded us to attend those who are looking for the “customer service” of the great Creator, in order to have their life fixed, and be reached by the living Spirit.
Are we really aware of this? Or maybe we are acting like “bots” that “pre-select” the customer who might be reached by God? People doesn’t expect stereotyped answers from us. They want authenticity when they are opening their hearts to someone, a warm human heart who listens to them. I do not agree and will never agree to use “bots” in the services of our church. I fight and will fight daily in prayer to avoid becoming a “human bot”, devaluating thus the wonderful re-creation God has done in me, avoiding to become a filter which limits the access of humankind to salvation in Jesus Christ.
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