The world has never been more convenient. What is that doing to us?

The Big Story


As it sounds like the invention of canned beans. We've gone to canned goods than we invented washing machine. Everything we have done has been about making our lives easier that in and of itself is not about thing. It's very good thing but with a i technology the options now are making our choices the matter of lifting a finger instead of actually physically washing the walking to a washing machine gene and doing the actual labor. We're not doing labor anymore. We're not doing anything that requires some effort some thinking some inconvenience everything we're choosing and everything that's being offered to us is about making life easier simpler and frankly less rewarding. Is there a threshold somewhere that we crossed because to your point. I don't think anybody would argue that. The invention of the dishwasher or washing machine was a bad thing but there's it's gotta be a line somewhere where it goes from things that are freeing us up to make the most of our time to things that are actively discouraging us from interacting interacting with the world. Will i think if you think about it think about the technology that is available when you take something as basic as social media area and how pervasive it is it appalls me when i'm walking home from work and i see pretty much i would say ninety five percent of the people walking with their face into their their phones not looking at anybody on the street not bothering to see which direction they're going. They just kind of do it like they're a bunch of drones walking down the sidewalk and even that it's just we are so programmed to be osman's. Almost it's now. I think that's the threshold and it's only people that are a little bit alarmed by the fact that menial chores banality l'idee things like that are actually something to embrace instead of something to shun. They're the ones that i think are going to kind of lead a counter revolution and take back some of the the more boring stuff of their life and find satisfaction in it that gets at what i was going to ask you next 'cause i can't and i hope i'm i hope i'm only speaking for myself but i don't think that i am i can't find satisfaction in walking four blocks to pick up my food when it could just be brought brought to me or to use your example. I don't find any satisfaction in assembling furniture like i will pay just moved. I will pay whatever it costs to not do that and i don't know when my brain switched and maybe it was just because it became an option not to have to yeah i get your point but do you find satisfaction picking up your phone and ordering something online like. Does it make you happy to have food delivered to your doorstep. Stop instead of taking the time the thought and the preparation in buying your groceries actually spending the time to prepare para dish that you've thought about and put care into. I don't know if you've kids or if you have a family but do you actually get satisfaction out of feeding your kids is giving them a great meal hearing them say dad while that was a great dinner. Thank you so much. I would love to hear say that for the record but she's not going to know no. I i do find that when you go to the market and buy your vegetables in the morning and spend the afternoon cooking you take more time with your food food to taste it to experience it. <hes> and you want the people around you to figure out the word enjoy it. Yes yeah you feel much better about it right and and i guess what fascinated me about your piece is trying to figure out what that is actually doing to us the process of not engaging like it's one thing to say like garden even notice that i i ordered my and i ate it but do we know what that is doing to us. What toll that takes well. I think i interviewed i. I think she's in the story. Her name was making caselli and she's a stand up comedian in toronto and i absolutely loved what she said so she he told me how her and her partner east love getting up in the morning they'd have piece of paper sitting on their counter instead of itemize list plugged into their phone and they would have things to do like pick up the dry cleaning <hes> maybe go by some fresh flowers at the market things like <hes> they would walk around. They would say hi to their neighbors. They would maybe stop for lunch may be discovering new cafe where they had a really great cup of coffee and instead she said that all the do now is basically sit it or lay in bed with their phones and take off the boxes by ordering things that they might need and they don't do that kind dove lisi meandering wandering around the neighborhood where they <hes> actually meet people face to face and have a conversation sation. She just finds that her saturdays in her sundays are way more dull and they're not as fulfiling how do we we start to convince ourselves to do these things. You mentioned that there. Someone's gotta start a mini revolution about reclaiming the pleasure in everyday activities activities. Where does that begin. I think i think really if you look around. You're already see it beginning <hes> the artisan community <hes> when it comes to food food farm-to-table cuisine. There's a big push. There's a lot of people that are actually really making an effort now to <hes> get to local the markets and do that kind of shopping support the local <hes> farmers. There's there's a there's a growing swell swell of individuals who care about the people that actually put in time sweat tears into making products or produce or whatever it is that they are giving to us. They're taking the time to say okay. I'm gonna make an effort to come to you and those kinds of businesses are actually flourishing. <hes> this one lady after i wrote the p. she she sent me an email and it was really thoughtful and she said the one thing that you didn't think about was how how all of these click bait options. I e anything you can click on to get delivered to you immediately. She said they're destroying. Small towns sounds all the tiny retailers mom and pop shops that you stu subsist because of people being loyal to them coming to them. They're starting to disappear now. It's not just because of convenience per se. It's also because of big box retailers ars but that's an earlier form of convenience. You know with the big box. Go there do everything all in one swoop. That was just another incarnation nation of the you know the rollout of convenience that has been chugging along for the last hundred years that god knows what level it will get to with with technology. Do we have any idea how quickly the click an order and get it off. The internet economy is growing well well. I think if you consider just the <hes> amount of purchases that are done on the web so in the worldwide for instance stints almost two point nine trillion dollars was purchased last year in canada alone were expected double what we did in two thousand sixteen and by this year will have spend forty billion dollars online so is growing exponentially and with services like amazon ebay. All of those different ones will even them more conventional couriers like u._p._s. and fedex etcetera. They're all trying to find a way to go to zero emissions and make things a little bit more environmental friendly in my piece. I didn't wanna hammer on about the environmental impact talked. All the easy choices were making but there's absolutely no question that everything that we're doing when we're relying more on airplanes since on vans to bring us things. All these things are taking a toll on the environment just this morning. I was reading the paper and there's a new book out by tatiana schlossberg. That's caroline kennedy's a daughter who's was a science reporter for the new york times and she's just written a book about <hes> this very phenomenon and she calls the inconspicuous consumption and it's about the environmental impact that you don't know oh you have and i have not read it but i'm going to and it what makes me happy. What makes me feel better is that all of these things are starting to be written. People are starting to think about all of this stuff in a much more concerted and wholesome way. I guess who do you you think or where do you think i guess we first documented how far we'd come in the race for convenience and how much could cost us. When did we start to realize just how far we were going. I don't think we've realized that yet <hes>. I don't think that most people even even give it. A second thought. I was shocked at the response at the story. I wrote about convenience had what was it was overwhelming. It was bizarre really really because it was a topic that nobody has thought about that said there are some there are people who are far more learned learning than i am who are starting to write <hes> fascinating essays in places like the new york times and the atlantic all these publications that are starting according to examine the tyranny of convenience and how we need to start thinking about the choices we make instead of always opting for something that is almost a mindless thing to do. We should maybe start making our lives a little bit more difficult and by that i mean maybe we should not order from ubereats and maybe we should actually walk two blocks and go to the grocery store and maybe we should take an hour and make a meal for our family while maybe they stand around and actually talk to you and you have a conversation with your child about her day her homework. I'm sure you do that anyway. But wouldn't it be nice if she just kind of hung out with you while you showed her how to make a dish that otherwise she she would never know how to make because you just ordered in one of the things that stopped me and my tracks from your piece the same way you've gotten that response is i think we've talked about all the individual aspects of what you describe on this podcast. We've certainly talked about social media addiction and what it does to us. We've definitely talked about packaging waste and what the the proliferation of plastics have done to the planet and we've talked about how we don't connect in person anymore like we've done episodes on all those topics but we've never put it together to to figure out what's at the root of it and to realize that your motivations for doing all those things that aren't good for you are simply convenience and laziness. This is a tough thing to grapple with and i think it's it's a hard sell to convince people to go backwards. That's a really good point. I don't think it anybody is advocating to go backwards. I don't think that's it at all. I think it is instead of moving forward at at such. A breakneck speed always putting yourself. I always making sure that you're choosing to do things that require the least amount of energy and effort on your part. I think that all people are trying to say is every once in a while. Put the brakes on. Take takes some time. Grab a hobby this wonderful <hes> writer. His name is tim wu. He's a lawyer columbia. He said when you think about it. Hobbies are really a waste of time. Why would you build a model car when you can go out and buy one well the point is you to build the model car because you get satisfaction of using your brain and actually figuring out how to put it together. You me an example of something you've done. Since you wrote this piece that you wouldn't have done before you wrote it. Well one thing i am doing but i didn't do it today to get here because i always under hurry and after go somewhere after her work but i have been i live at <hes> a busy intersection in toronto and i have been walking to the rom role winter you museum picking up one of the city bikes biking it on one of the multiple blake bike lanes that are in this city now and doing doing it to work and coming home the same way that's one thing i did not do before the other thing that i am actively doing is. I am looking for the farmers markets. I am trying to find those smaller. <hes> vendors who need my dollars versus a lob laws or a whole foods are so eas who really doesn't isn't. I'm trying to do those kind of things and the other thing that i i am actively doing now is i'm trying to grow my own vegetables. I live in a condo. I have started a vegetable garden on the balcony and i get so much the joy out of going out there and watching you know the tomato start to grow <hes>. I guess the main thing i've done is i've just kind slowed down a bit and just done some few more things. You'll fashioned way exco gail mcdonald feature writer at the globe globe in mail.

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