Could the Age of Convenience be our Downfall?

Could we become like those humans in the movie Wall-E, unable to walk because of weak skeletal structure? Although it seems unlikely, it doesn’t seem like entirely impossible if we consider how we live our lives now. The primary contributing factor that led to the humans’ condition in the movie was convenience. There were machines that did everything for them, so they stopped being physically capable of doing much at all.

If you really think about, that doesn’t seem too far off from where we are. If you take a look around you, you’ll see that convenience already drives almost everything.

Why wait?

We live in a world where the ideal sought by most companies is speedy service. Think about SARS with the e-filing system. Submitting tax returns was a much more tedious process before we could do it online. Think about university registrations and assignments. These days, universities have digitized both processes, so you can register from the comfort of your home, and you need not rush to write and submit an assignment two weeks before its due date to ensure that you aren’t diddled by the postal service. While not every aspect of our lives is characterized by this desire for speed, the constant evolution of technology will eventually ensure that all of humanity’s needs are quickly and easily satisfied.

What’s there to be afraid of?

For some people, the world they live in is safe. There’s no danger lurking. They’re not living in a war zone, or a country experiencing deep political turmoil and civil disputes. While it’s great to be free from danger there’s an undesired side effect if you look at it from another point of view.  If you never experienced danger, you might not ever develop that awareness that the world is dangerous, and that you have to be careful. Even though we have crime statistics, we also read reports of killings or other acts of violence in areas that are not normally characterized by danger.

This is where security systems and environmental alerts are great. They warn us when things are going go wrong. We get time to prepare and adjust so that we can survive what’s coming. But think about it. What’s wrong with that? By creating systems like these, humanity has invented a dependency on technology. In some societies, humans are relying less and less on their own abilities to survive. Once we become totally dependent on such systems, we’d cease to look out for danger. What do you think would happen if, for some reason, these systems failed?

What’s the point?

If life was free of struggle and danger the world would be beautiful. But wake up and look around. If we go along believing our world will be spared nastiness, then we’re fools. And we’ll end up building a future in which we’re unprepared for any challenges that come our way. If we don’t watch out, we could find ourselves becoming easy prey to a future in which we may not be able to survive.


Written by David Hendricks

Image credit: Microsoft Images