Saturday, August 1, 2009

Why do we still have to rush?

Suddenly it stroke me, supposedly we live in an age of prosperity, technological marvels, more automation, yet why do we still have to rush? We have cars, automatic teller machines, automatic washing machines, dishwashers, internet banking, yet why do we still have to rush madly at work and in our personal lives. Shouldn't we be using more time for ourselves by now?

What is the point of this rush culture? Why do we have to pay the bill in exchange of our health, by suffering from stress related disorders, such as anxiety, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes that no other species on this planet suffers from? Which generation will have the guts to change this foolish race?

It turns out that the more we create time, the faster we devour it. The capitalism's principle requirement, material growth relies on more production and more consumption in less time. Yet strangely we don't need the surplus, we don't need to be fat, we don't need big cars, most of the wealth that we managed to build and cost us our health and happiness during our lives, will be wasted when we die.

In Nature no creature can survive on wastage, the Nature's economy is merciless, you cannot survive if you are fat or you are inefficient in using your resources. Yet we humans are different. With our enormous cerebral cortex we learned that we can get away with wasting or creating surplus and live on that. We are the sole foolish victims of this system of extravaganza, this enormous charade of meaningless consumption that enables us to pity on ourselves. We madly produce, consume or waste materials that we don't need, and in due process we miss the point of life completely.

Incidentally I came across a video of journalist Carl Honore in TED, he talks about the slow movement. It is a cultural revolution against the notion that faster is always better. Carl Honore believes the Western world's emphasis on speed erodes health, productivity and quality of life.

Below, find Carl Honore's praise of slowness:


Caveman said...

I have read the Slow Movement book. You can borrow it from Stanton Library and I recommend you buy it!

I agree that it is such a paradox that we have labour saving devices but we don't enjoy the time they save. Instead, we use the time to do something else.

We have a dishwasher, but I prefer to wash the dishes myself and my daughters take it in turns to dry up and put things away. This teaches them about doing chores and helping around the house.

Caveman said...

I meant to say I recommend you BORROW it, not buy it (unless you really want to).

Brian Brannigan said...

A very interesting topic that has many subtexts that would each need to challenge certain assumptions.

Does the human ego relish a challenge? Is that an inate attribute designed to help preserve the species? I've heard it said that the saddest individuals are revolutionaries when the struggle is over.

Humans are great problem solvers (for the most part). As we get more knowledgeable (not necessarily more intelligent) and our communication channels more efficient, is it not then inevitable that our continuous improvement rate of change dy2/dx2 will increase? This apparently hectic pace may merely be part way along an exponential curve.

The solution ... changing what we value! Is America the best country in the world? By what measure? Assuming that trends tend to be cyclical, I'm confident that a reversal is not too far away.

Whilst recessions are inherently bad, I was optimistic that the GFC may enhance our sense of community. Alas, the worst appears to be over and greed is back as bold as ever already.

Nice blog and thanks for inspiring this mini-rant.

ricardo said...

Time has become very cheap. Everything has to happen in an instant, immediate gratification. If we humans do not slow things down we may not make it in the end. Nice blog. Congratulations.