Inconvenient Conveniences

remotesWe are fortunate to live in a progressive world filled with talented, intelligent individuals focused on developing new systems and products to make our lives easier.  New technologies pop up with mind-boggling speed to help make us all quicker, stronger, and more efficient.  Considering this same world is filled with fast-paced, hyper-productive multi-tasking Real Women, we tend to eat this stuff right up.

What’s not to love about things like high-efficiency washers so we can do more laundry faster, or Tablets and Laptops that allow us to stay connected no matter where we go, or take-out food for nights when cooking just isn’t an option, or even hair color in a box for quick at-home root touch ups?  There are a lot of conveniences to be thankful for in our modern, high-tech environments.

Yet mixed in with some of these amazing things that make our lives easier, are supposed “improvements” that just don’t quite cut it.  I’m sure they looked great in blueprint version, and they each were heralded with great promise and promotion.  But in reality, they just make things more…. inconvenient.  Yet no one seems to mind.

Let’s for example consider call-waiting.  This nifty development was put in place simply for the purpose of interrupting conversations.  I’m sure several very intelligent telecommunications people thought this to be a wonderful idea.  However, in reality, it is a nuisance.  At the very least, call-waiting is a distraction.  You are having a lovely phone conversation with someone, and literally mid-sentence your words cut out for a second to allow a beep to interrupt.  You are now distracted because you are wondering who else is trying to call you.  The person you have been talking to is distracted because either they noticed the cut off, or can tell you are no longer giving them your undivided attention.  You then begin an internal argument with yourself:  Do you ignore the beeps and finish your conversation?  Do you pause to look at your phone to find out who’s calling?  If so, then the dreaded decision to make: who to talk to?   Do you really want to be completely rude and switch to the other caller, which in effect tells the first person “you aren’t as important to me as this other person who has now interrupted us”?   Thanks to the distraction, you have missed the last two sentences the person on the other end has just said to you anyway.  Congratulations, you’ve been purposefully interrupted by convenience.

How about self-check-out at the grocery store?  This is a modern process many stores have begun to offer to help customers get through the pain and torture of grocery shopping more quickly.  Rather than wait in that pesky line to have a real live, trained human check out your items, you can have the joy of doing it all yourself.   Which means you must find the appropriate bar codes on each product and line it up correctly for the reader.  If you have something without a code, like fresh produce, you have to then find the matching item on the screen to get the appropriate cost and weight.  If something goes wrong in this process, you must raise your hand and look frantically for one of those trained personnel to come help you – thus defeating the purpose of doing it all by yourself and quickly.  Oh, and don’t forget  — you had best not have more than half a dozen items to ring up….because if too many products get bunched up at the end of the conveyor belt, the machine voice is going to tell you to stop and bag them up.   Which again, if you had gone through the human line, a nice trained professional would be already bagging them for you.   I fail to see the convenience.

Lastly, there is the grand-daddy of technology-driven “convenience”…. The Remote Control. Or, perhaps more aptly named: the Remote Control Farm.  Our TV’s are capable of doing more than ever before. They aren’t just for watching television programs anymore.  My living room TV is my son’s portal into his world of interactive video gaming.  We have a gazillion cable channels available, and can stream videos and internet access via Apple TV.  We can watch DVDs and Blue-Ray discs.  And it seems that every one of these nifty abilities requires its own special remote, or an algebraic formula of button-pressing to make things happen.  For each function, the TV must be in the right mode, hence the need to change inputs on the primary remote….but be sure to click the right buttons in the right order – or else the whole system fails.  I can manage to watch TV and DVDs on my own – but I have no idea how to play a BlueRay, since that requires going through my son’s PlayStation unit, nor do I know how to get internet access connected, as that requires, from what I can tell, one of the men in my house going behind the TV, standing on one foot and doing a dance while unplugging one port and plugging another in. It apparently helps to swear at it as well.  And heaven forbid I turn on or off the cable box and TV unit in the wrong order, because the whole thing will go into reboot mode.   Call me crazy, but it sure seems like a complicated way to be convenient.

As a Real Woman who consistently tries to fit more and more into a day, I’m all for efficiency and making my life easier.  But sometimes, can’t we admit that maybe we are taking things a bit too far and certain conveniences have become….well, just the opposite?  Perhaps we get too focused on finding new and different ways to do things better, and sometimes, if we just stick to the less complicated, straight, flat road, we’d get where we are going and not be so tired or frustrated when we get there.




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A "real woman" mom, wife, worker, friend, sister, daughter....
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2 Responses to Inconvenient Conveniences

  1. Pingback: When Did Convenient Become Lazy? | The Inactive Activist

  2. Pingback: What Has Convenience Cost Us? | The Inactive Activist

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