The Cost of Convenience
I’ve never been good at keeping plants alive, but my mom recently landscaped the front of our house, inadvertently forcing me to try my hand at a green thumb. Not to brag, but it has been like three weeks and so far nothing has died. In all seriousness, though, I think I may be falling in love with with my new morning routine of Cyrus sticking his hands in the hose while I water.
There is something incredibly grounding and liberating about being barefoot on soft soil in a world that increasingly idolizes anything but the natural. It didn’t hit me until I was on a morning walk and I passed by a house with a sprinkler system; but our world is moving toward total automation, where time-saving devices preclude us from ever having to step foot outdoors.
Why does this matter? Why does it matter that technology has become so advanced we can click a button and have groceries delivered straight to our door? Or that we never have to fight nightmarish parking lots and horrific crowds to go Christmas shopping again because Amazon has all the best deals AND free two-day shipping? Sounds like a dream, right?
When I heard that malls were starting to die off, I wasn’t initially bothered because I could practically count on one hand the number of times I’ve been to a mall since I graduated high school (the better part of a decade ago). But I’m realizing there is a cost to convenience, and I’m not so sure we’ve really taken a hard look at what we are giving up to get it. It makes me wonder what's next to go?
I'm realizing there is a cost to convenience, and I'm not so sure we've really taken a hard look at what we are giving up to get it.
What do Netflix, Amazon Prime, and self-checkouts all have in common? Aside from being considered technological milestones in today’s world, none of them require any human interaction. Most people would rather order take out and binge watch Netflix than get dressed up and sit across the table from someone. We feel more comfortable texting our feelings in emojis and funny GIFS because we think we can somehow strip relationship of true vulnerability without losing the very crux of what connection is all about.
When I think about the world my parents grew up in, I’m flooded with all the nostalgia of neighborhood gatherings and homemade pies, church luncheons and kids climbing trees and skinning their knees. My dad tells stories of growing up in the Valley, flying with his father in his little crop-duster plane, spending summers in a camper on the beach. I have to ask myself what Cyrus will recall one day about his growing up years. I shutter to think that by giving into the culture's desperation for the next greatest piece of technology, I could very well be depriving my son of the childhood he so deserves.
I picture the scene on Leave It To Beaver where neighbors actually talk to one another as they are getting the paper or watering the garden. But what happens when you remove the sources that force us out of our own front doors? How are we spending all that time that has now been saved with automated systems? More episodes? Five more minutes on social media? More disconnecting.
I’m so guilty of this. And to be honest, there are certain things I’m not so sure I’m willing to give up. You haven’t experienced the joy that is online grocery shopping until you’ve experienced the horror that is trying to keep your toddler from raising sheer pandemonium in the produce section of your local Kroger. But maybe there are a couple of things I would be willing to re-evaluate in effort to take more steps toward connection and away from the isolation that so often comes with convenience.
Maybe for you, keep the sprinkler system if you work full time (and kudos for keeping plants alive in the midst of a million other priorities). But maybe make excuses to get out on occasion when you wouldn’t otherwise. When you check the mail or go buy groceries, take notice of the world around you, both nature and people alike. There is a world that is flourishing with hope and loveliness. One that isn’t as depressing as the headlines and Facebook posts would make it appear, if we would just take a moment to stop and appreciate it.