My neighborhood video rental store has closed its doors. After 30 plus years of being the gathering place for movie lovers of all ages, Video Connections has fallen victim to the realities of today’s marketplace. Between on-line streaming, Red Box and other methods of having movies delivered at the push of a button, the brick and mortar business model is galloping toward obsolescence.
I hate the idea that I’ve become one of those dinosaurs constantly lamenting “the good old days.” Because, face it, they weren’t always that good. Vietnam sucked. So did the brown acid, the Nixon years, runaway inflation, trickle down economics and disco. I just couldn’t pull off the open front shirt and gold chain look. Face it, my Boogie Oogie Oogie just couldn’t Boogie no more.
Without a doubt, technology has enriched our lives. Because of developments in medicine, people are surviving with afflictions that used to mean a rapid death sentence. Thanks to lasers, computers and a talented surgeon, my cataracts were sucked out and replaced by acrylic lenses. How very Bionic Man, right? But, fact is, I’m 20/20 without glasses or contact lenses for the first time since elementary school. Shopping online is convenient, habit forming and helps stretch our budgets. You can text people all over the world and never worry about spelling words correctly. It’s a beautiful thing. You can listen to a steady diet of your favorite music on the internet and not have to put up with the mindless blather from a local deejay.
Problem is, I used to be a local deejay. And mindless blather was my singular talent. And the movie lovers who ran that video store will have to find something else to do after being made obsolete. Your neighborhood bookstore is about to go the way of the buggy whip, typewriter and whale bone corset. The nice lady with the beehive hairdo who used to scan your groceries and call you “hon” joins the rest of the people squeezed out of the job market by our quest to minimize our face-to-face contact with other human beings.
Maybe it is a sign of creeping geezerdom, but I’ll miss talking movies with my friends at Video Connections. I’ll miss catching up on the neighborhood gossip with the grocery clerk or buying books from the dollar table outside the bookstore. I’ll even miss yelling “get a clue you hoser,” at the radio when the deejay talks over the vocal of one of my favorite songs.
I feel like what we’re gaining in convenience, speed and efficiency is inversely proportional to what we’re losing in our ongoing battle to remain human and real. Face-to-face contact is becoming rarer—conversation without keyboarding a lost art. And I can’t help feeling a bit sad about the whole thing.