Does Technology Make Us Lazy?
I often hear the following lament: If someone or something sabotaged and destroyed our infrastructure, no one would be equipped to survive. We are too lazy and technology has made us that way.
There’s no question that we’ve become far more dependent on technology. It makes our lives easier. You could even argue that technology has made us complacent; that we’ve come to depend on it to solve our problems. But does complacency equal laziness?
Well let’s take a step back and evaluate the goals of technological innovation. Many of the technological advances of the last century were designed primarily as time-saving devices. Washing machines, dishwashers, and microwaves (to name but a few) all exist to help us save time (and take it from someone who has lived without these; they can save hours in the course of a single week). But what are we doing with all that extra time?
According to the Department of Labor, the average American spends 2.7 hours a day watching television. There go all those hours we saved (and then some!) using time-saving technologies. Here is a mental image of what these time-saving devices have given us: zombiefied Americans staring blankly at their TV screens.
Let’s not blame technology for this. Technologies can’t make decisions for us (as much as people would like them to). What we do with the free time that technology has given us is entirely up to us. That we have decided to spend that time unproductively indoors is no fault of technology’s (if it’s any indication of just how unproductive we’ve become, those same statistics linked above say that the average 15-19 year-old spends 6 minutes per weekend day reading [presumably this does not count online content]).
Think about what you want from technology. Perhaps you’d like to be free from performing certain menial tasks. Maybe you want time to write that novel you’ve been dreaming about, but instead you veg out in front of your television set every day after work. Remember only this: that is entirely your choice.
So I ask again: does technology make us lazy? No. We’ve made ourselves lazy.