The Curse of Modern Conveniences


It was 115 degrees F today in Sydney, Australia. But I don’t live there anymore.

When I did, I complained incessantly. In America, we have something called air conditioning. In America, buildings have dual-pane windows and thermal insulation. What the hell is wrong with you savages?

Australia does not have the infrastructure development of the US. Life is less convenient there. But its residents are happier. Modern conveniences serve to make us unhappy by shielding us from the things we were designed to do and the things we were made to feel.

The world has invented some pretty cool stuff. Telephones that can access the world’s knowledge. Websites where we can find a date without stepping outside. Humans are programmed to seek the path of least resistance, and we do. One Google policy is that employees are never more than 150 feet away from food. Way to take away the thrill of the hunt, man.

Once upon a time, humans had to endure bitter cold, chase down wild buffalo, and crawl through thorny brambles to collect blackberries. And they had to do these things together, because a buffalo is too big to take down solo. Humans felt alive. Now we just drive to In-n-Out in our anesthetized climate-controlled boxes with ergonomic leather seats.

Technological advances are supposed to alleviate us of onerous tasks so that we can focus on more important things, like curing cancer or smelling the roses. Instead, technology is used to avoid doing human things, like face-to-face interactions. (I’m guilty of this. I hate talking to people and I prefer to attend office meetings from behind a computer screen.)

When I first moved to Sydney, I rented a loft in Marrickville. I had a motorcycle but no garage. I had to use the sidewalk in front of my building as my workshop. It was horribly inconvenient and I cursed my crappy living conditions. But my neighbors would go out of their way to help me work on my bike because, well, I was blocking the damn sidewalk. When we had 115 degree days, we sat outside together under the shade of a coolibah tree. And somehow we were all a little happier.

My Home in Marrickville


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