Stef (firecat) wrote,

Daily Soul-Search, No. 173

Do you think the rapid advancement of "convenience technologies" (remote control everything, drive-through everything, automatic everything) is going to help people by making our lives more efficient and therefore allowing us to spend our time and effort on more important matters, or are we as a society just going to become more and more lazy, until we resent having to make even the smallest effort to maintain our lifestyles?

Um, yes. Convenience technologies don't create motivation, creativity, and inspiration. They also don't destroy them. We can't blame problems in our society on them. People have to make their own motivation, creativity, and inspiration.

In the US at least, among people I know, there's more of a trend toward lots and lots of busyness than a trend toward laziness. I don't particularly see it as busyness spent on "important matters" myself, but it's still busyness. For one thing, many people work long hours to afford the latest technologies and to make sure they can afford to have all the same recreational experiences that their neighbors do. On the other end of the social scale, many service sector people have to work more than one job to make ends meet. (See Barbara Ehrenreich's Nickel and Dimed.) Among people with leisure time, societal expectations of what you'll do with that time (e.g., constantly redo your body, your home, and your wardrobe, always reach toward the new and be dissatisfied with the old, even if it's still perfectly serviceable) become more complex.

But a lot of this has always been true. Before the technologies existed, servants and peasants spent all their time doing tasks for their own maintenance and for rich people, so the rich people could be lazy or be socially appropriate for their class (e.g., by changing their outfits several times a day) or make a mark on the world in some manner. The class divisions are still true. Some lower-class people may have more time than they used to because some repetitive tasks are easier to accomplish - I'm not sure.

Are today's kids going to grow up to be super-productive citizens who benefit from the freedom these technologies give them, or will they simply be lazy people who suffer the societal consequences of never having to do anything for themselves?

Binary much?
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