Where can I keep all this time that I'm saving?
All watched over by machines of loving grace.
Tech these days is getting really good at automating away the activities that everyone hates. With all this time saved, we are freer to focus on what we enjoy most in life.
Netflix is when I first noticed this liberation in action. As everyone over thirty remembers, before broadband existed the worst part of renting a movie was physically browsing the aisles at your local video rental store. Nobody liked having to do this. To make it worse, there weren’t even any algorithms at play informing us as to what we might enjoy. Some stores had a “staff pick” section, but let’s be honest, who cares what some film nerd thinks when Metacritic and Rotten Tomatoes can objectively (and instantly) tell us how worthy a piece of media is of our attention?
Before Amazon, the experience of shopping was tedious and unenjoyable. Shopping malls were commonplace, but if you were lucky, your town had a Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart relieved us from the annoying drudgery of patronizing multiple shops in the old “town squares”. So much inefficiency making small talk with our neighbors and examining goods before our purchase. That’s all better thanks to Amazon. We know which product is best (the first one) and we can quickly get right to the payment (the best part of shopping!) in a fraction of the time. “Buy it now”? Yes please. I have important things to do.
In the early aughts, the invention of Facebook (and later Instagram) was a breath of fresh air. It helped us stay up-to-date with the lives of our loved ones easily and cheaply- no phone call needed! Facebook (now known as Meta Systems Incorporated) understood that “catching up with friends” is an activity we’d all prefer machines handled for us, freeing us to focus on what matters. I used to feel guilty when I hadn’t called my Aunt Linda in a while, but now I can conveniently scroll her feed for updates, and soon any uncomfortable feelings I may have had retreat quietly back from whence they came.
I also love a good story, and that’s why I love TikTok. A single TikTok video can tell a story in a fraction of the time it would take to watch a movie, or worse, read an entire novel. As everyone knows, the most distressing part of reading is accidentally losing yourself in the narrative. Sometimes whole hours can fly by! In the time you’ve read one novel, TikTok can tell me a thousand stories.
And thank goodness for Twitter and Reddit not only for serving up news headlines, —automatically sorted based on what’s most eye-catching— but prepackaging them with opinions on how to feel about all of it. All in one place! So much time saved that would have otherwise been wasted on internalizing the subject matter and formulating my own nuanced perspective.
Whenever I’m out to eat I can’t help but think about how inefficient the whole process is. Having to get dressed up, physically walk to a restaurant, taking a moment to admire the decor and ambiance, be literally waited on… that time adds up! Apps like Doordash provide just the part you need need —the food— in plastic containers and delivered right to your door at a comfortable room temperature. Best of all? It’s the exact same price.
Yessir, the future sure is bright. They’re even building “AI” powered machines now that can paint, write poetry, and compose music. Finally- artists will soon be liberated from the drudgery of capturing the effusive feeling of being; of snapping a corner off of the fleeting, ethereal sense of sublime, and distilling it into a drinkable tonic that enables our too-fragile hearts to briefly beat in sync with the pulse of our infinitely mysterious universe.
They’ll save so much time!
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