We live in a world brimming with convenience. It’s everywhere, and we are programmed to want it all the time. The industrial and information/telecommunications revolutions have allowed us to make leaps and bounds when it comes to increased levels of ‘convenience’ in our everyday lives. In the modern world, we have everything at our finger tips. Everything within reach. A vast array of services are just a click or call away – clothing, accomodation, food, entertainment, education, transport, communication, romance, new technologies, homewares, and almost anything else you could think of. We can talk to our friends with the tap of our thumb, or validate a stranger’s existence with a double-tap.
One could even go as far as to call it extreme convenience.
We are all so conveniently connected.
I am not so inclined to agree. I look around us and I see a world not only disconnected from it’s own sense of community, but from the natural environment from which we are derived. It seems that we cannot relate or reach out to one another unless there is a digital screen as a medium. We actively avoid communicating face to face – we text, we Facebook, we DM, we Snapchat, we use the self-serve checkouts, we shop online. And we despise anything that is inconvenient, even in the slightest. This year in Australia we saw single use plastic bags being banned from all stores country-wide, and the backlash was as swift as it was brutal. The stubborn resistance that met the plastic bag ban was not only disheartening, but also highlighted our subconscious yet perpetually enforced distaste for inconvenience.
But when did we get so dependant on things being convenient? It seems that these days, anything that requires us to think for ourselves is labelled as ‘too hard’. The problem is that so many things fall under this label, and the negative effect that this has on our environment, our relationships, and our health is profound. Cooking a nourishing meal from scratch is far less convenient than buying a microwaveable meal in a box, or going to the drive-thru at McDonalds, or ordering Chinese food through UberEats. Taking the time to evaluate and change your diet is far less convenient than taking a supplement, or buying that new celebrity-endorsed detox tea, or that impressive superfood powder. Spending time with a friend is far less convenient than constantly sending meaningless and overly filtered Snapchats, or updating our friends about our day via an Instagram story. Remembering to bring reusable cloth bags to the grocery store or take a keep cup to the cafe is far less convenient that using a provided plastic bag or disposable cup. Doing a small amount of research into a clothing label to check if they produce their garments ethically is far less convenient than buying that $15 dress online, even if that dress is a product of child labor. Washing out containers for proper recycling or trying to implement ‘zero waste’ practices is far less convenient than using vast amounts of single use, throw-away products that we don’t have to think about once they have been disposed of. This isn’t an attack on anyone that does these things, but it is a call to recognise why we do certain things. Because I can guarantee that most of these decisions stem from the desire for convenience.
The fact is, we have become so dependant on corporations thinking for us and providing everything we ‘need’, that we have forgotten to think for ourselves. And when we are presented with the notion of thinking for ourselves, it instantly makes us uncomfortable. That feeling is what leads us to discard the idea of bringing our own bags or keep cups, or cooking a healthy meal from scratch, or choosing to purchase ethically produced items where possible, or from going out of our way to spend quality time with someone. It’s easier to go with what is provided. Because that’s what companies want – they want you to feel like they have everything that you might need, without any inconvenience. It is a constant competition to stay relevant, and that relevance is often based on user-friendliness and ease of accessibility. In the age of information and technology, we have neglected the most important thing that happens to be right at our fingertips – information. This high level of convenience can and should be put to good use. It has never been easier to do your own research on a product or company, or look for recipes and meal inspiration, to teach ourselves new things. Utilising extreme convenience to break the mould and do better where we can.
Don’t get me wrong – convenience is a great thing, and it has contributed substantially to many improvements in our modern day society. It has never been easier to connect with likeminded people that you may never have met if it were not for blogs and social media platforms. We can speak to and see each other via video chat, when physically meeting is not possible. We’ve made vast improvements in the efficacy of transport, manufacturing and technology. However, the cost of extreme convenience is that we get so used doing things a certain way, that any change seems hugely arduous. We become drones, plodding through each non-decision because everything has been predetermined by aforementioned convenience. And that cost leads to the degradation of our environment, the deterioration of our health and the slackening of our mental aptitude. It can be extremely difficult to step past that initial reaction of ‘ugh, too hard’ and do something supposedly inconvenient. But after a while, those steps can become a journey towards something far greater and more beneficial than extreme convenience – reconnecting with each other, with our planet, and with ourselves.
image via Pinterest