23/ 05/ 2016

Has our obsession with convenience gone too far?

I really don’t know how I feel about this piece on efforts to eliminate the need to fold laundry. I mean, I know that having the ability to buy your time back can be a huge help to so many households. Like how great would it be to create automated folding machines and donate them to low-income, single parent households so parents can spend more time with their children?

But thinking about it from another angle, how many of us truly need this? We’re human–so no matter how comfortable and easy things get, we will always find something else our laziness finds worthy of complaint. Hate washing dishes? Get a dishwasher. And pretty soon, you’ll be complaining about how annoying it is to unload the dishwasher. Not to mention, the extra help doesn’t always save that us that much. My apartment came with a dish washer, which in my 1-2 person household takes more time and only slightly less effort than washing the dishes myself.

A video I did last year on how I prep food and clothing for the week.

Here’s the thing: I’m not against a folding solution, or any other time-saving chore automation. But isn’t it weird that we work so hard as a society to reduce our need for manual labor, only to then feel the need to make up for our increasingly sedentary lifestyles by paying to go to the gym?

It’s the same paradox as with processed foods. The easiest, most direct way to get flavor and nutrition from food is to consume it in its natural forum; but for “convenience” we take those natural products, reduced and processed them into unnatural products, then use chemistry to manipulate those unnatural products so they will mimic the taste of the original natural product.

I don’t hate processed foods or cooking ingredients–for certain things like bread, or special sauces, or pickled vegetables for example, they can save hours of cooking time. But when I see people filling their shopping carts and pantries with pre-cooked stir-fry chicken in a bag or boxes of frozen vegetables, it just makes me wonder what the hell we’re doing to ourselves. These products generally don’t taste very good. Some are full of artificial ingredients designed to make un-fresh food taste fresh. They’re more expensive, and they only shave what, 10 minutes? off the time it takes to cut up some chicken and throw it in a wok.

Services like Blue Apron take this a step farther into the madness. We were tired of making everything from scratch so we started mass-producing all of our food. Then we got so sick of mass-produced food, we became convinced that the only way to deal with this fatigue would be to pay even MORE money to a company who would go back to fresh ingredients for us, and ship them to our door in pre-measured amounts with recipes that require virtually no thinking (nor in effect, any actual cooking) at all.

Or how about that photo that was circulating of an orange that was pre-peeled and then put into a plastic container to be sold in a store? And the fact that so many people have become so reliant on GPS-enabled technology that they’ve forgotten how to read a simple map and get themselves from point A to point B?

It’s a never-ending loop of ridiculousness. So often, it seems like we put MORE energy (and money) into avoiding doing things than we would if we actually did them. I can’t help but feel like we’re all on our way to having our brains and muscles turn to mush. I don’t know what the right balance is of technology-assisted convenience, out-sourcing and DIY. Believe me, I believe that time is valuable and I would never want to do long division in my head. But I DO know that I don’t ever want to be a person who doesn’t know how, or is to lazy, to do shit.

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I'm a 30-something multimedia creator from New York. I do videos on Youtube centered on open discussion and co-mentorship. Once a month, I host a Q&A with inspiring people from entrepreneurs to athletes and more on The itsme Podcast. Be warned: I can be opinionated. But it's all love! Please follow and subscribe, it would mean a lot! :)

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