The technologies of convenience are making our sphere of exploration and experience smaller. —Robert Englund
This is one of those Monday mornings where I am having considerable difficulty finding any motivation. I hit the snooze on my alarm for a full hour this morning before pulling my feet out from under the covers. After a trying week with long hours and too little sleep and too much anxiety, I would just as soon spend the entire day in bed. What’s a little disturbing is that I almost could. Modern convenience gives me the ability to write from anywhere I can manage either a WiFI or cell phone signal. The software and settings on my desktop computer can be easily duplicated on my laptop. My image files are shared on the home network so I can access them from any room in the house. The only reason I would have to get out of bed is for food and coffee.
I am happy to be living in a period where such convenience is possible, and there is even more. I have the world’s information at my fingertips, no matter where I am, no matter what time of day it may be. My middle son, the Marine stationed in Japan, would have been difficult to contact a mere ten years ago, but now we can Skype and chat in real time without inconveniencing either of us. I can watch fashion shows around the world live without ever having to board a plane and sit next to someone wreaking of perfume for 17 hours. I can take a picture and not have to drop film off at the lab. The convenience of living right here, right now, is nice.
With such convenience, however, comes some responsibility, I think. If the universe is going to give us all these advantages, do we not have an obligation to use them for the greater good? If our lives are somehow made easier by the things around us and the abilities we have been given, does that not obligate us to not only improve our lives but that of those around us? Being the beneficiaries of convenience means that we are compelled to learn more, to understand at a deeper level, to be involved to a greater degree, and to speak more when the time is appropriate. Convenience is wonderful but we are indentured to the universe for using that convenience in ways that make a difference.
When I first sat down at my desk this morning, there were a number of news stories that caught my eye. These were among them:
- Designer Raf Simons Questions The Pace Of Fashion
- Weather Patterns Could Change Dramatically By June
- More Continental Bird Species Are Going Extinct
- No One Needs An Apple Watch
That such a diverse amount of current information and opinions from around the world is available at my fingertips this morning is amazing. While they do come from several different sources, they were delivered as curated links so that I wouldn’t lose time sorting through all the different publications. Everything is right there waiting for me. The convenience is astonishing.
Yet, for that convenience, there is a necessary response. I cannot, morally, just read those articles and not respond. Each demands some form of response that alters my life and my schedule in some form. Consider:
- The questions Raf asks, though seemingly esoterical on one level, are applicable for every aspect of a very broken fashion industry. This impacts not only how I view current fashion events, but also influences my own shopping habits. To the degree that I take advantage of the convenience of fast fashion, I endanger the creativity that pushes the industry forward.
- If the weather patterns develop as predicted, we could see a colder winter here in the Midwest. Therefore, we would do well to plant a garden of food that can be easily preserved and hold throughout the winter. Challenging weather patterns lead us to take actions now that make us more self-sufficient.
- While the extinction of birds in South America may seem to be inconsequential, we know that the world is interconnected and that such events make the world less sustainable. We need to be more aware of purchases we make, especially those regarding paper and plastic products, that impact the areas where avian species are most rapidly dying.
- Disappointment in the Apple Watch, and how people are not using it even after spending so much money on them, will inevitably affect the future of smart wearables. This is an important lesson in how design can only push society forward so far. When the technology exceeds societies ability to adapt it to their lives, the technology fails. This is going to slow further technology integration. I need to keep a look out for how the industry as a whole responds.
Those may seem minor, perhaps, but they ultimately matter in how I shape my day and what decisions I make. Convenience generates awareness to things that we might have totally missed as little as five years ago. Convenience also makes it easier to respond in an appro
Convenience also makes it easier to respond in an appropriate way. When we know that portions of Asia and India are more likely to face devastating floods later this year, we can begin giving to relief agencies in advance rather than waiting until an emergency strikes. The plethora of financial options available to us now allows us to manage our finances in such a way that we are better able to save more and thereby help more than did previous generations. These conveniences give us an edge in helping to make the world a better place. We direct our creativity and innovation more precisely because it is convenient to do so.
Let’s face it, we would all be lazy and lethargic if it were an option. For 99% of us, though, we have to work to make any progress and anything that makes that work and our living easier is to be appreciated.
A trailer for the new Harry Potter movie was released over the weekend. Being able to see trailers without needing to go to the theater allows us to decide in advance which movies we might want to see. In this case, though, it also raises another question. We have a seven-year-old who is reading rather voraciously. He’s going to find the new trailer interesting, so the convenience of seeing the trailer now, at home, gives us the opportunity to not only discuss whether it is appropriate viewing fare, but also whether his reading level might be at a point where we could introduce him to the first of the Harry Potter books on conjunction with the release of the film.
It also allows us to do this:
Enjoy the convenience you have this Monday.