What rewards does convenience provide?

The former CEO of Chrysler Corporation, Lee Iacocca, wrote what I consider a must read for anyone walking the planet today who’s fed up with politics running rampant in every facet of life. The book is entitled, Where Have All the Leaders Gone?

In one chapter titled, “Are we too fat and satisfied for our own good?” Iacocca states, “Sometimes I wonder if we’d be better off with less success. Maybe our minds are getting a little warped. We have five hundred TV channels, plus the Internet. Too much TV, too much Internet, too many e-mails. I’m not knocking computers, but as the saying goes, garbage in, garbage out. Do you ever stop and think about how you’re actually benefiting from this brave new computer world?”

While the above paragraph truly resonated with me, I’m not naïve to the benefits computers and technologies have had on society. But beyond making things easier, you really have to ask yourself how have they made the quality of our lives better?

There’s no arguing that as an advanced society we’ve achieved the epitome of success, but at what cost?

We live in the most affluent society in the history of mankind and are afforded opportunities that many other parts of the world can only dream about. Yet too many of us are anxious, depressed and nervous even though citizens of the United States have never had it so good.

We’ve turned into an instant gratification society and care little of the cost associated either personally or financially just as long as our short term needs are fulfilled.

And who could ignore the hatred we seem to have for our fellow man today. We’re disrespectful of other’s property, other’s feelings and other’s way of life — believing we have the authority to do and say whatever we please.

As successful as we think we are, it doesn’t sound like it to me.

I often enjoy listening to stories of the past, recanted by those who lived decades ago. While they all share hardships and struggles in common, there are drastic differences from our lives today. There was a sense of gratitude for the gifts you were fortunate enough to be blessed with. A lack of technology might seem inconceivable, but it forced family and friends to share more of their lives with each other — to get to know people for who they were not what they represented as in today’s materialistic based world. A time when saying “hello” to an unknown stranger on city streets was commonplace; when respect was something we had not only for each other, but for ourselves.

As Iacocca said, “I wonder if we’d be better off with less success.” Maybe then possessions wouldn’t be a sign of one’s self-worth, but the way in which we behaved towards each other would be. Our lives will continue to progress — becoming even easier if you could imagine. But life is about more than just convenience — it’s about quality. Maybe it’s time we stop and think about how we’re actually benefiting from life today — benefiting where it truly matters.


One thought on “What rewards does convenience provide?

  1. To quote you, Craig, on May 1st in your article titled, “Strength does not come from physical capacity”

    “Societal demands cause us to live stressful lives filled with anxiety as we struggle for relevance and acceptance in this material based world”…

    This is where all the electronic convenience begins…make the struggle easier to deal with, do whatever it takes to fit in with everyone else…gotta have a house as big as everyone else’s…gotta have a car as nice everyone else’s…gotta make the MONEY!

    So it’s when these conveniences becomes too heavily relied upon and then eventually becomes necessities that the problems begin. Remember when we became able to purchase any movie or kid’s t.v. show on vhs? Remember when we came home exhausted from our endless-hours jobs, too tired to deal with the kids, what did we say? “Put in a movie”. Worse yet…can’t be having conversations with the kids on the way home, can we? So let’s buy cars and vans with the tv monitor right on the back of the seats. We certainly wouldn’t want to have too much conversation with the kids while on a family vacation either so just put in a Disney movie while on the way to Disneyworld shall we?

    This eventually led to t.v. games that took the place of movies, then games the kids could carry in their hands wherever they went. Then came computer games, then on to the phones.

    So what we have managed to create in the past 25 years are electronic conveniences that enable parents to do what they wish while creating children who are getting what they want when they want it and all the while decreasing the need for human interaction. It has even affected contact with our families…”why go to the family dinner to see Aunt Sarah?…I just saw her on Facebook!”

    Think about it…we can sit at our computers and purchase pretty much anything we want without going to the store and coming into contact with any humans. We don’t need to go to the bank due to electronic banking. So sadly our contact with humans and the need to be respectful to those we pass on street has become unnecessary.

    So you’re right, Craig, you really do have to ask yourself how all of this has made the quality of our lives better.

    If these “conveniences” like computers at work enabled us to get our work done faster and we went home to be with our families earlier…I suppose the quality would be better, but if we go home and get right back on the computer to finish our work, check our email, or get ready for the next day’s meeting, then I suppose it doesn’t help the quality at all.

    Mr. Iacocca stated, “sometimes i wonder if we’d be better off with less success”. That, I suppose, would depend on who is defining success. If instant gratification and short term needs are your thing, I guess you would say “no”.

    On a personal level, I’ve learned to appreciate the human interaction all over again. I’ve been up the corporate ladder (with all its electronics) and back down again and will never go back up. I’ve learned what things should and shouldn’t be stressful and how to deal with them. I no longer have Facebook and place importance on connecting with those I truly connect with on a day-to-day basis.

    How did I learn to do all of this…well I Googled it, of course.

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