The following are my thoughts as prompted by today’s DPChallenge: Undo. If you could un-invent something, what would it be? Discuss why, potential repercussions, or a possible alternative.
We have often heard the statement, “necessity is the mother of invention.” I look at all the inventions that have come about over the last century or so, and I agree that talented and resourceful people over the years has been fueled by a need, whether practical, noble, or frivolous to dream beyond their realities. These people may have been parents who saw the need to make a chore efficient, to cut their process time a little shorter, or to amuse or please a loved one. Doctors and scientists have endeavored to address the aches and pains of their patients or figure out repeatedly puzzling events. Entertainers and artists have had to offer novel amusements in order to keep themselves and their acts fresh, new, and interesting.
I think of some great milestones such as the discovery and development of penicillin, water filtration, the telephone, the automobile, airplanes, or some household comforts like gas and electric stoves, refrigeration, air conditioning, or the microwave. I marvel at how these have made our lives better in so many ways. They were meant to allow us more time for the more important aspects of our lives. Or so we think.
And then I am reminded of the movie, Wall-E, which came out in 2008, and I remember how people were relegated to ordering online, then having their food brought to them, and how they were mostly drinking their food. They were in perpetual chat rooms online or playing video games while sitting on their comfy new age Barcaloungers. And this is in spite of sitting side by side with other similar loungers in a stadium size rec-room inside a robot-serviced space ship. In the movie, everyone was obscenely obese and socially inept. I know. I know. It’s a cartoon. But I also think it’s a very sad commentary of where we may be headed.
The world as we knew it is gone literally in the film. All that’s left are mountains of garbage that Wall-E and his fellow trash compactors have to gather, compact, palletize, and stack into neat piles. Every so often a tornado gust of filth, debris and lord knows what chemical waste it carries, would pass through and destroy much of where it passed.
I think of inventions and I applaud its inventors. I look at the handheld devices, the attachments to the TV screen so our children can play their video games ad nauseum ignoring us and sacrificing the learning of socialization and interaction with other human beings. I think of the modern conveniences that enable us to reach into our freezers, heat food in the microwave and then proceed to eat the meal. We may not even bother to look at our food because we’re too preoccupied with what’s going on in the screen before us. We did not have to hunt or gather our food, let alone clean, prep and cook it. And most reheated food tend not to require a lot of chewing either because they have been processed many times over.
I am tempted to say, uninvent these please.
I believe that inventions for the most part came about for the betterment of our lives. However, like anything, we abuse and misuse much of it. Antibiotics are to treat an infection. We should not be feeding it to our cattle and fowl to prevent them from getting sick because we are feeding them food that they would not be choosing to eat had they been allowed to roam free. (Think corn subsidy!) The Internet is supposed to facilitate connecting with other people, globally. It’s not supposed to isolate us even more.
Ultimately, we bear the burden of deciding whether to use our inventions for our betterment. Or we can misuse or abuse them to cater to our more frivolous, self-indulgent, irresponsible, less than honorable, and even dastardly purposes and excesses. The misuse or abuse of something does not negate nor decrease its value or use.