Thursday, February 22, 2007

Lazy is as Lazy does

I’m a lazy SOB. You are too. Don’t deny it. OK. Maybe on a relative scale, based on the current reality, you probably aren’t any better or any worse than any of the other lazy SOBs out there. But, compared to someone who lived a few generations ago, you’re definitely a lazy, slothful SOB.

You wake up in the morning. You don’t have to bother yourself with trying to read a complicated dial to tell what time it is. Just read the numbers. 7:00. And if you want to nod off for another few minutes, just hit the snooze. 7:09. And again. 7:18. And again 7:27. Oops, it’s getting late, better get up. And don’t even try and figure out why every snooze feature on every freakin’ clock radio in the bloody world is set at 9 minute intervals instead of, say, 5, 10 or even 15. The world’s greatest scientists have been trying for decades to solve that little mystery. The truth is, no one really knows. So just put it out of your mind and get up, hit the button on the coffee maker, turn on the TV to see what the weather will be like, check your blackberry for urgent messages and head for the hot shower. It all seems so natural and right. These are not luxuries at all. They are simply essential tools to help your sorry ass survive in this stressful, challenging world. If your ancestors were still alive, however, they might disagree. They were up at dawn, lighting the coal stove, drawing water from the pump and emptying the chamber pots.

None of this nonsense for us though. We have evolved. No exertion necessary. All we need to know how to do to survive today can be done with one button pushing finger or one knob twirling fist. And I mean everything.

We don’t get up to change the channel. We sit inert and push a button. We don’t light a fire to cook, we twirl a knob on the stove or push a button on the microwave. We don’t use elbow grease to wash our clothes or dishes. We lean over and push a button. Argh. Be careful. All that leaning is going to wreck havoc on your fragile back. We don’t need to hold a pen and move our arm to write or do a calculation. We just rest our elbows on the desk and push a few buttons on a computer or calculator. OK, technically they’re called keys, but they’re really densely compacted square buttons. Even erasing takes less energy. And there’s no rubber debris to sweep off the desk. That, in itself, probably saves thousands of people a year from dieing from exertion.

It is virtually unfathomable for me to grasp that years ago accountants, bookkeepers and clerks did all their calculations by hand and kept everything meticulously organized in paper files. And what about the great prose and poetry classics? All were written by hand on paper with a quill or pen loaded manually with ink. And no spell check. How did they do it? I would be sorely challenged to organize my thoughts and compose anything that way without pages full of strikeouts and erase marks. And I can’t even imagine having to walk to the book case or, heaven forbid, the library, to look up words or research anything. Not when the internet is right there with any bit of information I need.

And don’t forget music. It used to be that we actually had to get up and turn over a record in order to listen to an entire album. Now we just hit 'shuffle' on our CD players or Ipods and furgedaboutit. Oddly, we don’t seem to enjoy music as much as we used to. Maybe its because most of today’s music is substandard crap. Or maybe it’s because the effort required to actually do something is directly proportional to the amount of enjoyment derived from the experience. Hey, call me crazy.

Even our cars are made to save us the pesky responsibility of working too hard. No more window-elbow from rolling down the windows. We just press a button. No more changing gears. Just put the car in D and drive. No annoying clutch to work. (My left leg is so grateful.) Power steering alleviates the need to work too hard turning corners. And I’m sure those digital presets on the radio have saved a million lives. And then there’s the intermittent wipers which save us from the interminable agony of having to turn them on and off when precipitation becomes unpredictable.

Buttons, keys, knobs, levers and switches; silicon chips and circuit boards; on board computers and electronic sensors; voice activated computer and cellular technology; remote controlled doors and ignitions; stuff that turns on and off by itself. What more could a lazy SOB possibly ask for. Surely we have attained utopia.

And the absolute best is when our stuff talks to us. Don’t bother running for the phone. Good heavens, you could break a sweat. Just let the answering machine take it. And don’t worry about missing your email. Your computer will tell you when an urgent message comes in. Sorry about the spam. Our bathroom scales talk, the appliances talk, the cars talk, the machines that answer the phone when you call the service centre to complain about a broken talking machine talk. Our educators tell us that we should listen to our kids more. Hell, who’s got the energy after wading through the labyrinth of voice prompts when we call the school board.

And god almighty, even the elevators talk. Where I work, a soft feminine voice emanates from the elevator walls sweetly announcing every floor when the car stops. She even lets us know whether we are “going up” or going down” when the door closes. I don’t expect that I will ever go postal, but, hey, you never know. And if I do, I won’t arrive at work with a shotgun and go after my coworkers. Oh no. I’ll march straight into the elevator and send that nice automated voice straight to techno-hell.

Then I’ll sit in the lobby, call the elevator company and wait for their voice mail to finally connect me with a real person. The way I figure it, if I attentively follow the automated instructions and press the buttons like I’m told, I'll be out on bail before I get to talk to a real person. Or maybe I’ll just ignore the voice prompts, pretend to be on a rotary phone and wait a few minutes for an attendant (“who will be happy to serve me”) to come on the line. As we all know, that’s really the only way to get service over the phone these days.


Blogger R.A.Moore said...

We really are living in the Brave New World. Thanks for this great post.

9:01 PM  

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