Technology + lifestyle efficiencies = all work and no play

At one point or another in our lives, most of us would have had the hypothetical conversation surround which era of time we’d like to visit or have been born in. For some, living at the time of knights and fair maidens has chivalrous appeal. For others, living at a time when technology was advancing but not everywhere is attractive. But for me, I was born at exactly the right time.

I got to experience the humble beginnings of home computers, and 8-bit family console entertainment. I recall being lent my parent’s bulky mobile phone and being called a “yuppie”, and noticing six months later that everyone had one the same ‘yuppie’ device at high school. What all of this means is that I was afforded a fantastic position to be able to watch the rise of mainstream technology and gadgetry – I wasn’t born later so as to not empirically understand how far we’ve come, nor so early that I have to feel like I’m playing catch-up with technology.

Technology that has me more worried than excited

(Image: IBM)

So I was surprised today when I read this article on the PopSci front page that talked about gifting home appliances with internet connectivity and I wasn’t over the moon. On the one hand, I am able to think quickly and multitask, thus I expect my technology to keep up to speed with whatever’s going on: this is why I always prefer typing over handwriting. But on the other hand, for every advance into greater life efficiencies, I find myself worrying about the ends more-so than the potentiality of the means.

How much easier has life become now that we have access to items such as mobile computers, internet-capable smartphones and massive storage capacity that can slot onto a key ring? While all of these examples certainly allow us a myriad of leisure opportunities, it seems to me that more recent technological advancements have put leisure (at least implicitly) in the backseat.

The electric stove: now with internet connectivity?

(Image: Kristofer2)

The internet-capable home appliances idea sounds fantastic: imagine turning on the stove while on the way home, or prepping the kettle as you get out of the car. The idea is fantastic, but it plays on my mind as to the practical application that it will take on.

Waiting for the stove to heat up or the kettle to boil are two simple examples of tasks that involve what I refer to as ‘nothing time’: that is to say, time where you’re waiting for something to occur before you can take the next step. ‘Nothing time’ is usually not long enough to take on a lengthy task or short enough for you (read: me) to want to mill around and wait for it to pass – and so you sit down and relax for a few precious minutes. It’s the loss of these precious minutes that I take issue with.

All work and no play makes TPP something, something...

(Image: David Shankbone)

Technological leaps that allow greater life efficiencies may well free up time to do other things, but while the possibility of other things can mean leisure, it can also equate to work. A spare moment for me is generally spent thinking about what sort of writing I have to do for the rest of the day, planning my week (in terms of work) and all sorts of other work-related thoughts. Sad, yes, but for work addicts such as myself, the freeing up of ‘nothing time’ will inevitably result in more work time and less play. Couple that with a love of all things electronic and it’s a recipe for a rather disastrous cocktail.

As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section. Let me know if you agree or disagree and whether you can relate to spending altogether too many moments thinking about work (or other non-leisure related activities)!


6 Responses to “Technology + lifestyle efficiencies = all work and no play”
  1. Muffin says:

    To be honest, I see this as a path to greater laziness. Now people will have even less reason to get up and move around. On such grounds do I disapprove of this type of capability in home appliances.

  2. Matt says:

    Great article! I completely agree, as technology advances we get more and more frustrated by things that are not “instantaneous”. We miss out on taking the time to relax and enjoy the ambience of life itself. This is why I love the chance to go camping or fishing - it allows the brain to re-calibrate and realize that technology is something that works for ME, not the other way round.

  3. Aussiemoo says:

    Seeing how often my phone takes a photo while it’s in my pocket, the ability for it to turn on the oven while I’m not home has me a little worried. That said, I do not value nothing time intrinsically, and as someone who fails at organizing themselves most of the time, the ability to do mundane tasks quickly or remotely would certainly be a boon.

  4. @ Muffin - Interesting. So my stance that they could be used for yet another moment that could be filled with work and your belief that it will create greater laziness sit as quite the dichotomy! Sort of a, damned if you do, damned if you don’t type scenario. I hope the majority of people find the middle ground!

    @ Matt - Welcome to the PopSci blog and thanks for commenting. I think you’re onto something there. I remember receiving an email recently about the differences in generations and how older generations never had to have reduced-sugar anything and didn’t have as many issues with their weight because they were outside playing all the time. I think there’s something to be said for the inherent lack of effort that goes hand in hand with some of the gadgets that make our life ‘easier’.

    @ Aussiemoo - Thanks for popping by and leaving a comment. I’m all for mundane tasks being done quickly, my issue is with having access to more time and what I do with it. But if you fail at organising yourself most of the time, will you remember to remotely turn on your oven? ;)

  5. Shonky Adonis says:

    Personally I love the idea of being able to remotely control my appliances. Of course you have to be worried about the increasing dependency on networked technology as networks have a tendency to crash and can always be hacked by some lame prankster. While I dont mind having the information on my computer open to hacking once the ability to control the physical things in my life like a stove (read: fire in my kitchen) it gets a little worrying.
    However, I think the benefits for relaxation outway the risks of damage. I agree with Matt that it most likely lead to more laziness than work stress. Sorry, TPP, I dont think I’m in the same category of “workaholic” as you. Possibly closer to “alcoholic”…

  6. @ Shonky Adonis - Although I can easily relate to the workaholic side of the spectrum, my core concern with the technology is that it seems to encourage a binary reaction: either laziness or extra time to work. Do you think that most people will fall in the middle of the spectrum between laziness and workaholic, or do you believe (like me) that it will be more one or the other?

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