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Sunday, June 16
The Indiana Daily Student

opinion

OPINION: Efficiency is not always key

opmodernity-illo

When you wake up in the morning, if you’re part of the majority, you might make a cup of coffee to start your day. Using a coffee machine, you press a button and in little to no time, a steaming cup of coffee is waiting for you. Your prepackaged breakfast in the fridge is waiting to be microwaved, your online shopping packages are outside waiting to be brought in and your Roomba is currently vacuuming the house so you don’t have to. We utilize new technology and companies in order to live our lives with more ease — a sort of ease that we barely seem to notice anymore.  

These emerging tools allow us to be able to do daily tasks more quickly and efficiently, but are we losing out on gratifying moments because we choose the faster option? There’s a quote I often think about from Kurt Vonnegut in which he talks about going out to buy an envelope. His wife insists that he just order a hundred envelopes online because it’s so much easier, but he ignores her and goes out to buy an envelope anyways and has a pleasurable time doing it.  

As a generation, our new philosophy seems to prioritize the things that are faster, simpler and cheaper. Though these things certainly help us have more time, I fear we are losing the ritual of daily life. We are in a constant rush, looking for ways to get more done with less effort, as if we have suddenly realized we are all running out of time to complete things and must do something about it. How did they even survive back in the day? Cooking dinner, shopping, researching and cleaning the house were four different tasks to be completed at different times. Now, we can do it all at once. The question is, are we better because of it? 

The ceremony of cooking dinner and shopping for the ingredients is overlooked when you can just have a prepackaged meal show up at your door, and all you have to do is throw it in the oven. The act of going to a store to try on clothes and interact with others is disregarded when one can simply order them online and have them show up at your door the next day. 

We partake in the simplicity that emerging technologies have to offer because it’s easy to believe that the more we get done and the more productive we can make ourselves, the more successful and fulfilled we will be in the long run. Doing more faster and more efficiently must be better — never mind the fact that slowing down and being mindful of our lives will improve our wellbeing. We reduce our daily lives to a checklist, and the longer it is and the more checks we produce, the more fulfilled we must be. Right? 

There’s so many companies out there whose initiative is to make people's way of living more simple. Companies such as HelloFresh make meal plans for people with busy schedules who still want home cooked meals. The company will portion, package and deliver your meals for you so you don’t have to shop or plan. Amazon can deliver nearly anything you wish overnight with just the click of a button. Doordash can pick up food from just about any restaurant and deliver it to your house within the hour so you don’t have to go pick it up. The reality of it all is: why waste time ever leaving the house when you simply don’t have to? 

A lot of these companies can be considered practical, but what is practicality when it’s ridding us of the small pleasures of life? 

I imagine dancing around the kitchen while cooking a meal you got out of an old family recipe book. The smell of burning food, Tupperware out because you made too much and a mad dash to the store as you realized you’ve forgotten an important ingredient. All of this over the course of hours, with laughter and dancing, because life is meant to take time and be messy. But with the development of so many things meant to make our lives easier, Vonnegut made a compelling remark in his envelope story, as he said, it’s like “we’re not supposed to dance at all anymore.”  

 

Caitlyn Kulczycki is a sophomore studying media advertising with minors in psychology and creative writing. 

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