In his book, Shadow Work: The Unpaid, Unseen Jobs that Fill Your Day, author Craig Lambert claims that so many consumers have assumed the work normally done by those who once worked for producers and retailers. For example, many Americans use self-service technologies and thus perform the service jobs of the supermarket cashier, ticket counter operator or gas pump worker. He calls these extra jobs, done free of charge, shadow work.
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While exhausted consumers may feel more self-sufficient by such shadow work, they also become more isolated. When consumers interact with robots and computers, they lose touch with that human element which is so much an integral part of belonging to communities. When people become accustomed to the cold mechanical actions of machines, they often expect such behavior from those around them.
The result is the decay of community life. Lambert notes that what is missing are “these daily interchanges, swapping pleasantries and small talk with service personnel, [that] help glue a neighborhood, or a town, together.”