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Towards the age of touch


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It had been a long time since I’d travelled in Spain and I have travelled a good part of the Spanish mainland, when I found myself on a road trip to Valencia for the XII Conference of Human Rights Writers. During this journey, both Carmen, my colleague, and I, have seen how things have changed when ordering a menu at a hamburger restaurant or paying the bill at a roadside restaurant.

In the first, a multinational hamburger chain, we suddenly came across a touch screen where we had to order, as the girl at the counter informed us that it could no longer be done in the traditional way. She only charged for and delivered the food to you.

So we had to digitally select the menus we wanted to order, the drinks, the extras, the sauces, if we paid with a card or in cash, if we ate there or took the food to the car, well, it took us a while to get the hang of it, while there were young children who made their orders at lightning speed.

Once seated, Carmen and I joked that, on a not too distant day, when going to the services we were going to find a similar touch panel in which they would ask us: What are you going to do in our premises? If you are going to defecate press 1, if you are going to urinate press 2 and if you are only going to breathe press 3. Anyway, everything will work out, we think.

At snack time, we went into a large roadside restaurant and there we found a “self-service” and at the time of paying we were confronted by a machine where, like the payment machine in a car park, we had to insert bills and coins until reached the price of our drink. The same thing happened to us at night in the hotel. They had already told us that you could pay “with your face”, that is, showing your face in a kind of mirror that scanned it with a kind of laser beam and, immediately, they had taken the money from your credit card. Worthy of a novel by Isaac Asimov or Philiph K. Dick, to whom we will pay tribute in the upcoming edition of Algeciras Fantástika.

It was an experience that made us feel old, outdated, technologically illiterate, adrift in a world of screens, mice, cards, tablets and all kinds of gadgets that we don’t even know what they are used for. If that happens to us who are still in our fifties, what will our parents think of this robotized and increasingly depersonalized world? Luckily when we went up to the room, a poem by Alberti’s Marinero en tierra was waiting for us on the main wall.

And there is something that still cannot be mechanized, and that is poetry. A monumental library of old and out-of-print paper books in the hotel lobby whetted our appetites.

Disponible en: | Available in: Español


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