It would take our ancestors hours to hunt, forage and find the foods that they would then bring home to cook and eat. Fast-forward a few thousand years and by the 1960s us folks in the western world could find all of our basic foodie needs in the local supermarket – back then, the very fact that all of these foods were stocked in the same place was groundbreaking. How far we’ve come since then.
If you’re having a night-in at your student halls and you want to eat a dish that is the product of a country on the other side of the globe, all you need to do is open up your favourite delivery app and tap your screen a few times - this is the convenience revolution. It’s the key marker of the modern lifestyle where all necessities, comforts and indulgences are easily available 24/7 – a lifeline for students everywhere.
The problem with convenience
So we know you’d all be lost if you had to go to the library and find and read every book for your paper (because that’s what Wikipedia references are for!)
If we ever felt the need to invest in stocks, get our priesthood or just order clothes online to arrive the very next morning, the culture of convenience can feel like a modern-day miracle. But what’s the real price we have to pay for such readily available access to anything we want or need?
It’s making us lazy
Ever paid for an Uber to travel five minutes up the road rather than leave 20 minutes earlier and walk? Or jumped in a car to go to the gym to work out? Or even paid extra to have food delivered from a takeaway at the end of your street? We’ll admit we’re guilty.
Skipping out on these small journeys could mean skipping out on our health. Health professionals rejoice the benefits of staying active, saying it’s not only good for our physical health but our mental health too.
Our individuality is disappearing
Picture a woman walking down the street in the 1980s, she’s wearing a Walkman and is lost in a world of music – like a star in her personal music video. Now jump to today where apps like Spotify and Netflix gives us access to thousands of songs and films in a click. Special tech recommends and targets us with shows and music making it easier to choose among the options that help inform the way we express ourselves.
Even apps like Facebook (a convenient way of connecting with friends) makes us appear all the same, stripping us down to a few defining markers of individuality – things like our photograph and where we went to school.
It’s making us impatient
The ease with which everything is available is spoiling us. When you can skip the line to buy gig tickets on your mobile, waiting in line to vote on Election Day is irritating. Even waiting to receive a letter in the mail can feel annoying when an email would take a few seconds.
It creates a monopoly
Our taste for convenience breeds more convenience as big companies in Silicon valley battle it out to make our lives that much easier. But the simpler it is to use a company like Amazon or ASOS – the more powerful that company becomes.
Just try and do some Christmas shopping in your hometown this holidays to see how fast independent shops and local high streets are disappearing in the face of big businesses.
Of course, this is the biggy. Chucking those clothes in the dryer instead of pegging them up outside, buying pre-chopped veg in plastic wrapping or even just getting in a car instead of taking a walk are taking their toll on the environment.
We know you don’t want to hear it (we don’t want to either) but convenience culture is one of the big drivers of global warming – thanks for that, industrial revolution.
So what should I be doing about it?
In the student bubble, avoiding falling prey to the pitfalls of convenience culture is probably the last thing on your mind. And we’re not going to tell you to delete social media and run away to a hippy commune. But you’ve just moved away from home and you’re starting to forge a life the way you’d like to live it. If your mum uses waaaay too many plastic bags, now is your time to break the mold.
Make adjustments to your daily routine that could last a lifetime – that means walking the extra ten minutes, rather than jumping in a taxi. It means shopping local, running down to the takeaway to pick up your dinner or spending some quality time figuring out what you want and like in the real world, rather than letting the internet do it for you. Trust us, your health, happiness and handbag (or wallet) will be happier for it.