In Pakistan like many other countries in Asia, the most common way of shopping for most people is at the Souq, Bazaar, market or local corner store. And I mean the traditional type of market or store where someone gets the products from shelves behind the counter. This offers opportunities for social interaction: many regarded this style of shopping as “a social occasion” and would often “pause for conversations with the staff or other customers.
Self-service grocery is an American invention. Growing up in North America I realized that it was inconvenient or exhausting for me to speak with someone every time I just wanted “milk”. We grew up with the idea of having the option of being antisocial or independent when shopping for stuff. Even when I can, I usually go for self-checkout machines at supermarkets.
Plus traditional markets vs modern supermarkets are clearly more labor-intensive, slow, and more inefficient overall. But what are we losing in return?
I’m in Lahore now, and people here have no hesitation and ask. Where are you from? how do you like Pakistan? when I am around shopping for stuff here. And I have come to realize that I do enjoy those small interactions and make me feel more “warm” and “connected” with the place.
So what is better? Warm/Inefficient versus Cold/Efficient. Will we invent robots with amazing AI that give us this warm/connection feeling we strive for?
I don’t know the answer to this question anymore.