My Momma once made the claim that we spend just as much time doing laundry as our ancestors did. I laughed. Throw some soap, fabric softener and a load of laundry in the washing machine – then walk away. How could that take the same amount of my time as beating them against rocks and scrubbing them with a coarse-bristled brush and a bar of lye soap? Her response was simple – we have more clothes. My Momma knew what she was talking about. She made lye soap when I was a kid, and she had to do laundry for a family of 5. She then went on to explain that the average person used to own three sets of clothes – two everyday sets, and one “Sunday-go-to-Meetin'” set. We would regularly go through 40+ sets of clothes every single week.
I don’t know if the numbers would hold up to be precisely true or not, but the principle seems to stand. The subtle promise of Technology is that we will be able to work less, or at least less strenuously. The reality is that we simply create more work to do.
It used to be that communication happened via mail. The turnaround time for which could be measured in weeks. A reply wasn’t expected any quicker than the mail carriers could make the round trip. Email enables a near instantaneous turn around time – text messaging even more so.
There has never been a more technologically advanced society on the face of the earth, and never before a more stressed-out society. With greater potential comes greater expectation…not less.
I love technology – I am eagerly awaiting my new Blackberry Z10, which should be coming via FedEx by 4:30pm today. I love what it promises of an unified inbox for all my communication feeds and a seamless transition between apps and the Hub without having to close anything that I am currently working on; but not for one second do I believe that it will make my life easier – it will simply make it more productive.
This is why it is essential in our day to make the command decision to unplug, turn off, shut-down. We need to be in control of when we are working and when we are not. Sanity will not come with the next great gadget, it will only come from turning it off.