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Michael's Metaphors of Life Journal

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MICROWAVE MYSTERY: Where Did Our Micro Minutes Go?

March 13th, 2010 by Michael Dyet

Hmmm, it seems at first blush that we’ve effectively harnessed the power of technology to free us from many of life’s more tedious tasks. So why is, pray tell, that we are still so confounded busy?

I came across an article on the web yesterday titled “Popular Mechanics Best Inventions of the Last 50 Years”. Browsing through the list, it quickly became apparent that many of them were designed to make our lives easier and relieve us of time-consuming, mundane tasks. A few examples:

1955: The Microwave. I’ll admit to being hopelessly addicted to this little wonder. A hot meal in 15 minutes or less. I can’t imagine how I ever got along without one. Even Kraft Dinner has a microwavable version now.

1961: The Industrial Robot. The first ones simply moved and retrieved items. Now they’re a mainstay of automotive assembly lines performing a myriad of task more efficiently than humans ever could.

1964: Unmanned Aerial Vehicles. Need surveillance. Send up a drone. Who needs pilots anymore? I’ll wager that all aircraft will be remotely operated somewhere down the line. (That conjures nightmarish 911 visions but let’s not go there for the moment.)

1978: GPS Systems. No need to map out a route before you leave or watch the odometer to know when the next turn is coming up. Just punch in your destination and let the gadget get you there.

And finally, let’s go back to 1955 again for the granddaddy of all self-indulgent inventions: the TV Remote. It eliminated once and for all that annoying need to get up off the couch to change the channel.

There are dozens of more examples of time-saving, labour-saving, energy-saving devices at our disposal on a daily basis. But here is the enigma. Why is that – with all these innovations at our beck and call – we’re busier than ever before? What happened to all that free time we are supposed to have?

It may be that we’ve been hoodwinked by the very inventions to which we’ve given control of our lives. Every device that speeds up some aspect of our life seems to have a rebound effect. A few more RPMs over there mean we have to move faster over here to keep up. So we invent another device to meet that need and the cycle repeats itself.

It’s a bit like the lumberjack log roll competitions. Two lumberjacks balanced on a log in the water rolling it forward and backward to see who can stay on the longest. Eventually one of them starts to lose ground. The faster his feet move the more trouble he gets into until eventually he tumbles into the water.

I propose we short-circuit the log rolling metaphor. Let’s agree to shelve all the time-saving devices for a week. We may be pleasantly surprised to find that the pace of our life actually slows down and we miraculously find more time to relax.

Are you game? Great – so you go first. I’ll be back in a minute. I’ve got to pop something into the microwave before the great experiment begins.

~ Michael Robert Dyet is the author of “Until the Deep Water Stills – An Internet-enhanced Novel” – double winner in the Reader Views Literary Awards 2009. Visit Michael’s website at www.mdyetmetaphor.com or the novel online companion at www.mdyetmetaphor.com/blog.

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Tags:   · · · · · · 4 Comments

4 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Troy Munsell Jan 26, 2011 at 6:13 am

    Quite a beautiful website. I built mine and i was looking for some design ideas and you gave me a few. Did you develop the website alone?

    Thank you

  • 2 Michael Dyet Jan 29, 2011 at 5:27 am

    Enough is enough. Please stop bombarding my blog with repetitive comments!!

  • 3 Darmsanierung Jan 31, 2011 at 2:59 am

    What a great post!

  • 4 Michael Dyet Jan 31, 2011 at 3:06 am

    Thanks so much. I appreciate your kind words.