Y’all… I think that we, as a society, are in trouble.
When we look at human history, for the most part, we see technology advancing very slowly. Suddenly, we hit the back half of the 19th century and it seems like our technological advances begin to grow exponentially.
Don’t worry, I’m not trying to downplay the importance of technology in our world. I don’t think the advances we’ve made are inherently evil. I mean, sure, there are a lot of evil things that have been done with the technology that’s been introduced. But that’s not what this is about.
No, as great as all of our incredible technology is and can be, it’s made us more and more lazy as we’ve gone on. For that matter, it’s made us more impatient, too.
Think about the internet. Not 25 years ago, the most common internet access came in the form of dial-up with services like America Online. It was amazing. Today, if the average internet user were asked to make the switch to dial-up from the high-speed WiFi that he or she is used to, they would lose their minds over how slow their access is.
Consider the microwave oven. Try to deny how impatient you get waiting for a frozen burrito to heat up in two minutes.
How do I know technology is making us lazy, though?
I don’t think I ever remember a time when we didn’t have a television with a remote control. Even growing up in the 80s, the remote was an important object to have in the palm of one’s hand. Because that meant you got to control what channel you watched.
Dad used to compare watching TV when I was a kid with watching TV when he was a kid. His family didn’t have a remote control when he was a kid. Actually, he used to say that he was the remote control when he was a kid. Grandpa would say, “Change the channel,” and Dad would get up, walk across the living room, and turn the dial.
TVs used to have dials. It was easy to change the channel back in the day, I suppose. They only had a couple different channels to choose from.
So we invented a remote control so that one could change the channel and adjust the volume from the comfort of the sofa. Walking across the room is such an inconvenience.
You know what else is inconvenient? Using your thumb to push buttons. Apparently.
That’s right. Because now we have remote controls that are voice activated. It’s not enough that we can change the channel without pulling our lazy butts out of our La-Z-Boys. We can change the channel without even lifting a finger.
I’ve never tried anything with a voice remote. I know in the commercials they show a user holding the remote up to their mouth, as if they’re holding a microphone. But I feel confident that your remote could hear you if it’s close enough. You may not have to pick it up at all.
I mean, I can ask Siri to do something if my phone is sitting somewhere within earshot. Alexa can hear you from pretty much anywhere in the house, right? How sensitive is the microphone on the remote control?
What’s our next move? How do we make watching TV more convenient than speaking Netflix into existence? You always think that we’ve reached the peak of what’s possible, but there are always ways to improve.
I remember thinking that video game graphics couldn’t possibly get any better than what was seen on the Playstation 2. Two console generations later and it’s even more amazing how realistic these computer generated images can be. Remember when high definition television was the clearest quality picture around? Now there’s 4K… 8K… Am I missing anything?
How far away is humanity from life on the Axiom, sitting in hover chairs with a dozen screens floating around our heads while we drink our ginormous Buy-N-Large sodas?