The Tyranny of Convenience

from NYTs

Convenience is the most underestimated and least understood force in the world today. As a driver of human decisions, it may not offer the illicit thrill of Freud’s unconscious sexual desires or the mathematical elegance of the economist’s incentives. Convenience is boring. But boring is not the same thing as trivial.

In the developed nations of the 21st century, convenience — that is, more efficient and easier ways of doing personal tasks — has emerged as perhaps the most powerful force shaping our individual lives and our economies. This is particularly true in America, where, despite all the paeans to freedom and individuality, one sometimes wonders whether convenience is in fact the supreme value.

As Evan Williams, a co-founder of Twitter, recently put it, “Convenience decides everything.” Convenience seems to make our decisions for us, trumping what we like to imagine are our true preferences. (I prefer to brew my coffee, but Starbucks instant is so convenient I hardly ever do what I “prefer.”) Easy is better, easiest is best.

Convenience has the ability to make other options unthinkable. Once you have used a washing machine, laundering clothes by hand seems irrational, even if it might be cheaper. After you have experienced streaming television, waiting to see a show at a prescribed hour seems silly, even a little undignified. To resist convenience — not to own a cellphone, not to use Google — has come to require a special kind of dedication that is often taken for eccentricity, if not fanaticism.

For all its influence as a shaper of individual decisions, the greater power of convenience may arise from decisions made in aggregate, where it is doing so much to structure the modern economy. Particularly in tech-related industries, the battle for convenience is the battle for industry dominance.

More here.

, ,

26 Responses to The Tyranny of Convenience

  1. Daniel Schreier February 23, 2018 at 12:52 pm #

    It is the nature of the human being, as well as other living species which have the capability of think and make decisions, be them rational or not, to make things easier and more comfortable for them. It is not rocket science: if you have two paths for doing something, one 10 times easier than the other one, which of them would you take? 99,9% of the human population would take the easier path, not because we are lazy people, but we have a tendency to do thing the way we would spend less energy and resources. There is nothing wrong with that, it is our nature. However, since we live in a capitalist world, corporations visualized in this situation a huge way to make money and completely change our society. In instance, the invention of the smartphone made our lives much simpler, since we can access all the information in the planet by touching two fingers or a screen. One example that illustrates this convenience is food delivery. Not a long time ago, in order to order a pizza to your home, you would have to call the pizzeria, explain your order, which sometimes was misunderstood by the person in the other side of the line, wait to be delivered without knowing with precision how much time it would take to get it, and when it arrived, you had to pay the delivery person with cash. Now, with apps where you can order food, you choose exactly what you want to eat, without worrying if your order got misunderstood, pay directly in the app with credit card, and track the your order, knowing exactly where it is, and when is arriving. Many other examples exist, which shows how we are becoming even more convenient, still; I reckon this brings a huge setback to people. Sometimes, excess of convenience can cause huge health problems, and some mental disorders, since having more convenient ways of doing things require people to do less, they stay more time at home, because they don’t have to leave their households, since everything can get to them, or they eat more junk food, since is more convenient than cooking healthy food. Thus, there is a direct relation between being convenient and being unhealthy, which is something people need to consider while making their lives easier. Often times, doing what is right is not taking the easy and convenient path.

  2. Matt Henry February 23, 2018 at 12:58 pm #

    Convenience and laziness go hand in hand, and as people continue to get lazier, smart people will continue to innovate to meet these consumer needs. Consumers are willing to pay ridiculously high prices in order to save time, effort, and aggravation. People have streamlined more convenient ways of doing things, which usually means having someone else do it for them. This is the case for most people going out to eat because it saves time, effort, and the food is usually better tasting anyway. In this way, innovators have realized that consumers will pay so much more than they need to for the sole purpose of convenience, which is why it is shaping our economy and our lives.
    The “Tyranny of Convenience” is disrupting many industries as they were once known. Technology is replacing people in the workplace because it is more convenient and efficient. Take Amazon, for example, which has taken convenience to a whole new level. The article states, “The easier it is to use Amazon, the more powerful Amazon becomes – and thus the easier it becomes to use Amazon. Convenience and monopoly seem to be natural bedfellows” (Wu). Amazon has so many benefits to consumers, but the convenient way of life is not as flawless as it seems. With convenience as the main goal in society, we lose jobs, but more importantly we lose the struggles that caused people to work together and work hard. Convenience was once looked at as a Utopian ideal for more leisure time and focusing on hobbies. Now, convenience is looked at as taking the easy way out and not wanting to get ones hands dirty. The conveniences that make life so much easier make having to work hard a burden on people. People hate waiting in lines and get irritated if the Wi-Fi is slower than usual. No one is handy anymore because any minor issue can be solved by looking it up online or just calling someone else to do it. Technology has made everything in our lives so much easier, but now simple tasks are struggles instead of hard tasks.

  3. Grace Galuppo February 23, 2018 at 4:04 pm #

    Oxford dictionary defines convenient as “Fitting in well with a person’s needs, activities, and plans”. In today’s high-speed world, people are searching for ways to make their lives easier and that would allow them to complete more tasks and activities. I never thought about why I do what I do, in regards to certain daily activities, because I have always done what was easy for me. I agree fully with Evan Williams, the co-founder of Twitter, remark, “Convenience decides everything”, because without thinking most people would pick the easier option. When I make a decision, I think about all the different options before deciding on which would be the most convenient, even if it is more expensive. For instance, why waste time finding a recipe, cooking a meal and doing the dishes, when you can order take out from a restaurant and while they are delivering the food to your house, you can be completing a task.
    The type of convenience that saves time on physical labor are beneficial to our society’s economy. For instance, the invention of the washing machine, not only saved people time, but also boosted The United States economy because people highly valued the time they would have if they used a machine rather than having to hand wash clothes. Additionally, business that could use technology to enhance their daily productions means that they have more product to sell, which would positively affect the economy. Furthermore, when a product can advertise as being more efficient the demand of that product will increase. For example, with the creation of dishwasher in the 1950s had advertisements posted in newspapers, to show how much faster and easier using the product than if a homemaker had to washing the dishes do; however, a dishwasher cost money, while having a person do the dishes are free. Nowadays, people stray away from hard labor and time consuming tasks because there are ways that are more convenient for them that will take up a lesser amount of time.
    I rise the question: have people become lazier due to the increased amount of convenient options available around them and what is the likeliness that a lazy quality be passed on to the next generation? I believe that convenience is being disguised as laziness in many cases where people do not want to work hard. I also think that as a whole our society has leaned towards convenience rather than spending time on activities. For instance, many parents give their children iPads instead of sitting down with them and helping them complete a puzzle or play a board game, because it allows them to get work done while their children are entertained. In this way, I believe that children will grow up choosing the easier options rather than the mind stimulating options that could teach them life lesions. Moreover, the only way children learn is through making mistakes and trying over again on their own, however, children are being taught to find the fastest way to complete tasks, which is taking away an aspect of learning.

  4. zhijie Yang February 23, 2018 at 7:54 pm #

    Nowadays, people’s life is becoming more and more efficient with the development of economy, forming a “fast paced” way of life. Frequently with a variety of Internet application, the improvement of the payment system, and the O2O (Online to Offline) bring Convenience, let “lazy economic” scale expanding, which is the embodiment of the obvious Convenience.
    There is an AD that says, “bread and butter, courier helps you carry; Cold and fever, takeout helps you buy medicine; need a pick-me-up, coffee and cigarettes to get you upstairs…” Now, the “lazy cancer patient” has become the consumer advocate, let the businessman take pains to explore new service domain.
    In fact, the lazy economic’s “lazy” is different from the old negative words, the lazy person here is not the person who is a special person to be lazy. Instead, they have different careers, have the ability to pay, have new ideas about consumption, and have the courage to try out different services to free up more time for other activities. And this kind of person, a large part is student group or urban white-collar class, because modern fast pace life has given birth to this kind of lazy person economy.
    In China, the developed Internet environment gives lazy people a fertile land for economic development. In particular, O2O integrates traditional consumer industries and evolves various kinds of home-from-home services. Like someone on-site cooking, home photography, beauty and so on-site. The distance between people and service is greatly reduced, “only you cannot think of, you cannot buy it.” In one report, China’s O2O trading volume in 2016 was estimated to be 665.9 billion RMB, an increase of 64% annually. It is predicted that the economy will maintain its strong growth in the next few years. Among them, the highest proportion of take-away catering provided by the convenient service, the most consumers.
    This situation lazy economy in China has become a symbol of fashion and many young people began to openly admit that they are lazy, and even WeChat circle of friends and Weibo generous drying their lazy life, flaunt themselves as “New lazy”. Lazy economy also led to the relevant employment. Regardless of the hot summer or bleak winter, you can always see wearing a different platform clothing take-off staff flew in the streets. A courier average monthly income of nearly ?6,000, comparable to the city’s white-collar workers.
    However, lazy economy in creating new business opportunities, but also lead to different thinking. Some experts believe that the lazy economy prevails nowadays, the virtual nature of the Internet makes it difficult to control the quality of products, flooding fake goods, after-sales service is not guaranteed, the security of the payment process is poor and other issues need to be faced. In addition, some young consumers are overwhelmed by social issues such as over-reliance on the Internet and e-commerce, and real-world communication difficulties. Some experts believe that lazy economy reflects a supply and demand. The accelerating social rhythm has given some professionals more time to pay attention to other things through the purchase of services. However, lazy economy needs good guidance and supervision, it is necessary to respect the differences between individual choice and demand, but also to enrich the vitality of the market economy.

  5. Justin Brenner February 23, 2018 at 8:38 pm #

    In a business sense, Convenience is one of the biggest components of competition. As stated, Americans thrive for more and more convenience, anything to make our every day lives easier. Companies compete by making their products the easiest and most accessible to use. But as also stated, the more convenient a business becomes, the powerful it grows, and thus easier to use. Amazon is one of the most popular online retail services available, as it’s prime subscription quick shipping and discounts make ordering online just as easy, if not easier, than shopping in an actual store. But because of this, amazon has very little in the ways of direct competition. Some of it’s other features like streaming and digital content distribution, face great competition from others, but when it comes to just being an online storefront, it is not beaten simply because it cannot be beaten. This brings up the point, in the race for convenience, will we hit a point where we cannot make things easier than they already are, and when we hit that point, will we start to see monopolies crop up. If other competing business’s cannot match the ease of amazon, then amazon is the only one left, and can gain a monopoly on digital storefronts. This may or may not come to pass, as technology is always evolving, but it is something to think about.

  6. Frank Mabalatan February 23, 2018 at 8:56 pm #

    Of the gifts of time, talent, and treasure, the one that is most scarce in the world today is time. The world runs on the same 24-hour clock as it did decades ago, but the rate of production has increased exponentially this has been a result of maximizing efficiency so that the most work can be done in the same time frame. It is in the fiber of our society to finish one task as soon as possible in order to move on to the next one right away. This is where the convenience in daily life plays a big role in the actions of citizens. It has made life easier. As Tim Wu’s New York Times article mentions, one will use his washing machine instead the cheaper alternative of a washing board because the former is much more convenient. Wu’s article brings up the point of convenience being the driver of human decision. Instinctually, a person will want to pick the more convenient option in any arena because it is the most efficient. This efficiency allows a person to entertain as many external stimuli as possible, a characteristic similar to other animals.
    This preference for convenience translates to the contemporary dependence on smartphone and related technology. The functionalities of these device enable people to feed this preference for convenience and ironically, have impeded the human capability to move from one task to another efficiently. Convenience is an asset to human production, but it cannot be the basis for it. Wu states in his article that, “Easy is better, easiest is best”, a phrase that is detrimental to society. The fact that something is easy does not make it a better option. All that means is that the easy option makes it easier to feed that preference for what is convenient, a concept that can be compared to indulgence. Thus, convenience must be enjoyed in moderation because one cannot let such convenience to stoop to a lower standard. Today’s world demands that actions must be done fast, but it does not demand that such actions are easy.

    Related Reading

    Humans have shorter attention span than goldfish, thanks to smartphones: http://bit.ly/23fKHD2
    You Now Have a Shorter Attention Span Than a Goldfish: http://ti.me/1A2jCJd

  7. Lucas Rodriguez February 23, 2018 at 9:19 pm #

    Unlike B.F. Skinner’s approach on a motive-based behavior analysis or the Freudian era of the unconscious mind, most of our decisions and rational actions actually derive from a transparent source that lingers amid the daily routes of all our activities- convenience. A majority of our actions, thought processes, and decisions have become engulfed within the notions of laziness and direct results. We have become a society so desperately dependent on corporation output and easily attainable results; so drenched in this aroma of unfruitfulness and impatience. We seek outcomes that are more convenient, elements that will allow us to achieve our desired goal the quickest with very little effort. From our technological era of mass innovation, we continue to build products that strip us of our human-like abilities and qualities. We have become so effortlessly blind to what we are purchasing and have been taught to buy the life in which we want. In schooling institutions we have been structured to endeavor toward our ambitions that are more reasonable or “convenient”, that could promise us money and a secure place to live, totally destroying our opportunity to reach goals we never thought were possible. In terms of our consumption, we have generated complete faith in supermarkets and grocery stores, buying whatever is the cheapest and easiest to get, not paying close attention to the ingredients of the item or how it was produced. We strive what is the easiest for us, completely in a shell of our own selfish self-interests. This phenomenon could also be illustrated in terms of what consumers are starting to gravitate toward in terms of their buying preferences. Eminent products such as Amazon’s drone based delivery systems and Alexa system show this feature. The reason so many individuals are investing in such an expensive and unneeded product is because it makes their life “easier”- the convenience outlook. Now, rather than opening up your laptop or going on Safari to search for a certain statistic or daily weather update, with nothing but a single utterance we could unleash an informational storm amid our personal rooms. Even if an individual cannot fully purchase such items, we have adapted a system of monthly payment in most of our products we choose to buy; drowning ourselves within the debt of our preferences and forcing ourselves to work. But we still choose to pursue this route, because at the time of our purchase it is easy and affordable. It is reasonable to believe that soon we will be entirely functional human beings from the base of our beds- purchasing any grocery or product online, asking our home implemented systems to make us food or turn off a light, and monitoring our children from behind a screen, depriving them of human comfort. We have to start making “conscious” decisions. The more we rely on the easier route for a certain task we have or decision we make, the more we are disconnecting from the nature of life and traveling down a road of submission.

  8. TB February 23, 2018 at 10:38 pm #

    Convenience has an excessively large effect on modern-day America. Convenience affects morals, social interaction, the economy, and the dispositions of individuals across America. Schools are even changing because of convenience, many individuals no longer know how to do simple math or spell or check for grammar issues because they now have calculators, computers, and apps that do that for them.

    No one wants to work for anything anymore, and they no longer care about the moral values of earning an honest dollar, because it requires too much effort, too much energy and it’s not efficient or convenient. Why get a job when I can make money easier and faster by selling drugs or robbing someone, these options although clearly morally wrong, are easier and more convenient and many individuals will readily choose easier options over morally just options. Along with morals, it also affects society as a whole and the way we interact with one another. Teens and young adults have become so accustomed to modern technology and it’s convenience, it’s caused people to become isolated, no one has the desire for face-to-face interactions, or even talking over the phone they prefer to text. And when forced to interact with others, in person, individuals often become socially awkward and don’t know how to conduct themselves.

    The economy has also been strongly affected by convenience because instead of grocery shopping we order groceries online from places like Amazon and Blue Apron which takes away from grocery stores like Acme and ShopRite. Fast food has also become more popular in recent decades because of its accessibility and efficiency. This consequently hinders the economic prosperity of restaurants and diners. Malls, stores, and boutiques have also been inhibited by the negative influences of convenience. People no longer go to stores or malls instead, they choose to shop online because it is more efficient to have their purchases delivered to them. This, in turn, takes away from from the profits of stores, malls, and boutiques.

    Convenience has also caused impatience, laziness, lack of ambition, and obesity. People have increasingly become more impatient and short-tempered because they’re used to getting what they want immediately. When they don’t, they lose their tempers, become frustrated, and overwhelmed. The desire to get everything done faster, easier and cheaper has also caused a rise in the consumption of fast food as aforementioned. As a result, nearly half of all Americans are suffering from obesity. Simply because along with eating more fast food, convenience has also caused a widespread epidemic of laziness. No one possesses the drive to exercise and they no longer receive the health benefits of walking on a daily basis because instead of walking or riding a bike they choose to drive. Individuals no longer even walk around their own homes because riding a Segway or hoverboard is more convenient.

  9. Timothy Guerrero February 26, 2018 at 5:28 pm #

    At my job, Starbucks Coffee located right off the campus of Seton Hall in South Orange, people are marveled at just how much money goes into a drink. Think about it, a cup of milk, espresso, and syrup sounds extremely simplistic, yet it’s $4! In fact, one regular’s order is a hefty $7.25 and we see her every day. I always hear stories of regulars at our store who admit to spending $200, $300, even $400 a month – nearly $5,000 a year on coffee! It’s simply egregious, yet I understood one thing, and it was emphatically discussed in this article – people will pay a premium for convenience. People have no problems spending $3 on their coffee, as it takes a mere 2 minutes as opposed to getting up even earlier to prep their very own. I use this personal example to show just to what extent this applies to us societally. Think of all of our electronics and commodities, and how they function – to execute daily tasks in the most simplistic manner possible. I even admit to doing the same. I get coffee from Starbucks every morning, I do what were once timely activities such as paying bills or listening to the radio within the realms of my cell phone. We can even break this down into the nitty gritty – we use Google to research what would’ve at one point taken hours to do.

    I think what stands out most from this article is the art of the grind, and how its lost in this technological revolution in which convenience is a forefront. What are normally life-defining circumstances – acceptance into college (and using CommonApp to make it even easier), landing a job, finding a relationship, etc., these are now done within the realms of our phones. Gone are the days we rush from employer to employer, handing out resumes and building a network – its almost all digitalized. Gone are the days we have to take the time to write out numerous distinctive college applications and essays in hope of landing our dream school – there’s even a common platform recognized by thousands of universities in which you can apply all at once. We lose a sense of determination and embracement of the grind that is life, but life was never meant to be easy. It is important to realize how much we depend on accessibility to convenience, and sometimes take the harder route, as we become more fulfilled with knowledge of the steps it takes to get there.

  10. Jerry Wu February 27, 2018 at 12:35 am #

    From the perspective of a businessperson, having all the convenience in the world is the biggest thing a person could have. This is because of the fact that markets have been becoming more competitive over the recent years. In fact, the American people are the ones always looking for a more convenient way to live life. As the technology world continues to grow, so will the amount of convenience. Therefore, we as citizens will only grow to be lazier. However, businesses having the convenience of growing technology around them will allow them to expand their company and make their products and services more accessible. With online services now coming to life in 2018, the amount of benefits businesses can provide are countless. On the flip side of the situation, it can affect the ways that human both function and act, in which people will continue to get used to using only technology and not the natural resources that this Earth was created with! If this continues to happen, we will soon come to a situation where people will start to have a lack of awareness of the outside world! At some point, I believe that we need to teach one another about the most basic and more natural ways of living.

  11. Patrick Day March 1, 2018 at 5:38 pm #

    Convenience can be a slippery slope between the innovators that are attempting to make everyone’s lives as convenient as possible and the harm that too much convenience can put on everyone in general. As people get more involved with things that are convenient to them, the more likely that people would become lazy and attempt to find more convenient ways to do things. As people get lazier, they are less likely to do something that would require energy and effort. One example would be that someone would use the convenience of spending more money to receive food from takeout rather than going out to eat or make their own food. Innovators have noticed the lust people would want for things to come to them in the least amount of energy and time as possible. Innovators, especially at tech industries, would do anything they can to make the transaction as quick and as conveniently as possible for the customers to manipulate them to return as soon as possible to do it again. An example would be Amazon since they are well known for their customer service and they make sure that people receive their item that they purchased as soon as possible so customers can trust that they will receive their item in the time that they were told to receive it. On the other hand, even though could be manipulated from convenience due to their laziness, convenience could also make more people productive in the day and do more by saving time and money. Since people are able to make more transactions and do more things throughout the day, more money is able to circulate throughout the economy to cause an economic growth. I agree with Matt in that, innovators have noticed customers will pay more than they need to for the sake of convenience and that force of convenience is what is causing what kind of lives and economy we have to this day.
    Too much of any good thing would eventually turn into a bad thing. Jobs are being lost in the workplace because it is more convenient to have machines to do the work rather than people. Just like in the article, “The Tyranny of Convenience” it states that, “Convenience is all destination and no journey.” Life is supposed to be about the journey while everyone tries to get to their destination. As life gets more convenient, just like the same article states that, “We are at risk of making most of our life experiences a series of trolley rides.” People will talk about the accomplishments that they have done but they will never be able to talk about how they are able to do it because something else did it for them. The power of convenience can be easily underestimated since most people believe it is a good thing that we are being more efficient in our lives but if we were to be dependent on convenience too much, people will always find ways to make their life more convenient and would sacrifice money, intelligence, and health to get to that point.

  12. Gabrielle Pietanza March 1, 2018 at 6:02 pm #

    With the countless options available to us, individuals tend to look for the simplest approach to each and every task they take on. Convenience for this reason is an immense portion of the decision making process. When one option is convenient it has the ability to make the alternative options unthinkable. The company that provides the most convenient option to customers is the one that will be the most competitive and will ultimately control the respective industry.

    For example, the creation of the internet has been the ultimate convenience. What would have previously taken hours to research can now be found in an instant by merely typing the information into any web browser. Shopping has also been an improved experience for many because in this day and age, individuals do not need to even leave their homes in order to attain whatever they need. Specifically, Amazon is convenient in that you can order clothing, supplies, food, jewelry, entertainment, and absolutely anything else from the same website and with prime membership, free two day shipping. This is the epitome of convenience in shopping. Amazon is also rapidly expanding which will make consumers over time even more dependent on them and their services.

    The most convenient product may not always be the most inexpensive. As the company that develops the most efficient option controls the industry they can also therefore control the prices. In the market and society we live in a firms first interest is making a profit and with control of the market and pricing power, the profit can be quite large. Individuals are willing to pay as much as they have to make their lives easier as time is precious.

    It can be argued that the newfound convenience that is being encouraged is making people more demanding and lazier. With options readily available and at their fingertips much of the work that previously had to be completed prior to a task or reward has been eliminated. With internet especially we can receive anything in an instant. There is some sort of program for everything. Whatever type of information you need or task you need completed there is an extremely convenient way to get it done. The world is changing and convenience is becoming a more prevalent option for individuals.

  13. Jessica Williams March 2, 2018 at 11:32 am #

    Convenience certainly has a severe impact on the amount of labor we undertake to complete what we might call today the most basic tasks to complete. While I do agree that because of the increase in convenience regarding mundane tasks, such as washing the dishes or doing laundry, has made the general public lazier, I also feel that this convenience that technology provides brings a form of labor that is directed somewhere else that toils at the average human being. Instead of physical labor, we are often required to perform more emotional, mental, or any other general form of internal labor to complete the tasks given to us today.

    The author of the article brings up the point where we are already beginning to minimize the amount of mental labor to do menial tasks. The VCR, or the social media pages, as the article mentions, are various tools that help us express ourselves with minimal effort. I agree with this claim, and I actually often find it frustrating. People have become so accustomed to this convenience that even their speech in text messages make little sense and show almost no effort or thought put into them, with poor grammar and an overuse of emojis in a way that is neither funny nor makes a comment easy to decipher. However, this minimization of mental effort even put into speech could be the result of these laborious tasks being transferred from the physical world to the technological.

    Many schools and workplaces today are already transitioning from the use of paper and pen to a laptop, tablet, or Chromebook to complete the tasks required to pass a class or get a job done. Instead of writing a 5 paragraph essay, in one week, the convenience of the automated grammar corrector extensions on our computers, as well as the general quickness of writing ideas on a keyboard as opposed to a notebook has turned this 5 paragraph essay due in three days into a 5 page essay due in a week. While it may be easier to write material for the essay on a computer surface, it is the mental labor of creating additional original content in a shorter amount of time that causes us to become mentally weary. Thus leading to the over-indulgence of mental convenience that expresses ourselves with the most minimal amount of effort possible.

    The computer and the Internet has, for a long time, shared a space with the activities we enjoy along with the activities and jobs we would rather get out of the way as soon as possible with the smallest amount of effort. The issue with this, however, is because jobs have become “easier” and content could be created quickly, these jobs no longer require a minimal amount of effort. From the scope of the average person, our jobs and our schoolwork has invaded our space to express ourselves in a way, as it demands more of our time at our computers doing what they want, instead of doing what we want. So while it is an issue that we are becoming too reliant on technology and its convenience, we must also take into account how this convenience affects all aspects of our lives aside from our leisure time, as convenience has noticeably increased the demands of schools and workplaces regarding the amount of time and mental effort put into a task over the computer.

  14. Nathaniel Valyo March 2, 2018 at 6:40 pm #

    We have all heard the saying, “nothing worth having comes easily,” and, cliché as it may sound, it is entirely true. Think about the overwhelming sense of achievement felt when a tough task is finally completed. A certain amount of accomplishment and pride comes and fills you up, and you feel as though you can now tackle any other problems that come your way. This feeling today, unfortunately, is rare because of tools and machines that make tasks infinitely easier for us. This is not bad in and of itself, and in fact it can be incredibly helpful because easier methods of doing something free up more time throughout the day. The price, however, is our sense of accomplishment and pride.

    Many of us are guilty of falling victim to instant gratification—getting what we want as soon as it is available to us, with no waiting around whatsoever. We live in a “work hard, play hard” world, and the second an inconvenience pops up, we lose our cool, and it throws us off our rhythm. The article lists examples of various household appliances emerging in the 20th century which made our lives at home effortless; we can now rely on machines to efficiently perform our tasks for us, without fail. We see this today with the development of self-driving cars, Amazon prime accounts, and music streaming services, all of which eliminate the “burdens” of putting time and effort into getting something we want. We pay $5 a month just to eliminate 30 second advertisements on Spotify.

    A related essay by Nicholas Carr titled: “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” describes how Google, although making information available to us in the blink of an eye, has limited our sense of focus and concentration. Carr’s essay talks about how it has become more and more difficult to finish a reading online because we find ourselves skimming, and if we do not receive the knowledge we expected to gain instantly, we leave the article and move on to something else. Once we rely on Google to do all the work for us, any sort of work we would put in to gain knowledge on the same task would be unwise and even eccentric.

    Exposure to failure and persistence are growing more and more uncommon in our world. Once we delegate the responsibilities of a useful tool or machine wisely, instead of allowing them to dictate our lives, we will be free instead of enslaved to our own lack of effort. Our sense of accomplishment and pride will soon come back.

    Is Google Making Us Stupid?: (https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2008/07/is-google-making-us-stupid/306868/)

  15. Mary Margaret Miller March 2, 2018 at 8:19 pm #

    Our tolerance for convenience is growing longer and longer on a daily basis being that we strive to receive instant gratification. In this digital world we reside in, we seem to have everything at our fingertips. Want food ordered to your door? Order from any restaurant in the area and it’ll be at your door in thirty minutes. Do you have a question that you need a solution to but google cannot help you find the answer you are looking for? Write a post on a social media site such as Facebook or Twitter and your question is posted for the world to see and for anyone to respond to.
    We aim to go for what is more convenient as the digital age has taught our level of patience to thin out.
    Many have the mindset of “why wait when you can be instantly given what you want?” This is a true statement, as younger generations are having a harder and harder time learning how to be patient in a society that strives and thrives on instant gratification.
    As a form of industrial efficiency, we were taught early on that in a busy world we live in, we need convenience as a mode of survival. Mentioned previously in the article is about how convenience foods such as canned goods and Quaker Oats taking off in the early 20 century. The way we work has changed immensely over the past 100 years and we have become more dependent on convenience foods. During the work day, people have found that they do not have the time to prepare a meal, which is why convenience food has helped solved this problem. Without the idea of convenience, people would not be able to have food where they could just simply add water to it and heat it up whenever they please. Convenience foods are proven to be more affordable as well due to the fact that they are convenient and last much longer than foods that do not have preservatives. Due to their affordability, it has become more common for individuals to purchase these products to satisfy their needs.
    What can be taken away from this passage is that convenience is the innovation of our future. Tech companies keep the idea of convenience in mind while they created better products to enhance out digital experiences. It all started with the Walkman, which brought the convenience of listening to music wherever you traveled. Here we are a few decades later and now music can be listened to on our cell phones and many other devices. With convenience in mind, our society has become more intuitive and smarter with how we are able to complete tasks and fulfill our wants and needs for survival. Without convenience, society would not be able to keep up and fulfill the massive demands from the rest of our society.

  16. Sophia Fadgen March 9, 2018 at 2:55 am #

    As a few of the students above have suggested, I agree that laziness and convenience go hand in hand in our society. I believe that the definition of both of these terms is far too similar to disagree. As stated by Tim Wu, convenience is the “more efficient and easier way of doing a personal task”. Meanwhile, laziness is defined by Dictionary.com, as being “the quality of being unwilling to work or use energy.” Laziness and doing things simply because of the convenience are seen every day in the U.S. Wu’s article gives the example of an individual stating his preference to brew his own coffee, but finds himself going to Starbucks to order his coffee for the pure reason of convenience. Although I think this issue of convenience is much harsher than whether to brew your own coffee or not. Convenience is becoming a powerful force in our nation that is shaping the economy and environment citizens live in.
    An example of a harsh reality that convenience is causing big problems for our citizens would be fast food. Fast food is the fastest thought of convenience when it comes to the food industry. Between cheap prices and drive-thrus, almost any individual has the ability to quickly attain a food product from one of these chain restaurants. This becomes a problem when an estimated 160 million Americans are recorded as being overweight or obese (Murray, para. 2). It is because of this statistic that I agree with Wu and his belief that we as citizens must begin to embrace inconvenience. Embracing inconvenience would help to reshape many aspects of American citizens including individuality and health outcomes.
    I believe that in order to reshape the natural instinct of a human being to do things as quickly and efficiently as possible, we must first educate those who see convenience in a positive light, on the consequences it is causing too many citizens who may or may not realize it.

    Sources:
    http://www.healthdata.org/news-release/vast-majority-american-adults-are-overweight-or-obese-and-weight-growing-problem-among

  17. Sydney V March 12, 2018 at 9:27 am #

    Tim Wu discusses the need for inconvenience in everyday life. This theory is something that has never really crossed my mind, because growing up the way my generation has, we want everything as fast as possible while exerting as little energy as possible. Wu starts with explaining the usefulness of convenience and what it has done for humans. In the past it was hard for people to be individuals; there was the standard picture of the father going to work 9-5 everyday and the mother cleaning, cooking, and taking care of the children. Inventions like the microwave, the electric vacuum cleaner, pre cooked meals, have given people more time for leisure. In this leisure time people have been able to spend time on the things that make them individuals. For example, watching their favorite shows, exercising, knitting, video games, etc. All of these activities give insight and help form an individual’s personality. However, what these leisure activities don’t do is contribute to a person’s character and values. The decisions a person makes, how they react to certain situations, how they cope and deal with difficult things, all make a person’s character. With convenience there is less of an opportunity to make individual choices. Wu writes, “They expose us to the risk of frustration and failure, but they also can teach us something about the world and our place in it.” It is important for people to get frustrated and fail and not always get their way because it forces them to assess situations, use problem solving skills, and deal with their problems in the critical thinking way that only humans are capable of . If we continue to make decisions solely on convenience and fail t exercise the critical thinking skills we have, we are losing our individualism and reverting back to what we used to be in the past. We need to stop rushing through life trying to steer clear of tough decisions. Everyday is different for everyone and while it may be easy to order all your groceries on Amazon prime, taking the extra time and driving to a physical grocery store and interacting with other shoppers could be beneficial. I believe Wu wants to bring this issue to society’s attention and show people that while convenience is great, it isn’t everything. Somethings are worth waiting for, and that waiting might just benefit you in a way convenience never could.

  18. Nicholas DiBari March 12, 2018 at 6:09 pm #

    Convenience is something that, nowadays, is ironically a bit too convenient to find. The New York Times article brings up a number of great points I agree with in regards to a bit of struggle being part of our very humanity and human experience. Our struggles and, perhaps more so, our response to difficulty is what sets each and every one of us apart as individuals.
    I also agree with the article on all of the points that it presents in terms of why convenience may not be the best thing for us. As a guitar player, I can personally relate to how something that is not necessarily immediately gratifying can be far more fulfilling at the end of the day knowing that you put in the work to accomplish something or learn a skill.
    I believe there is more to it, however, than simply human experience lost in an over convenient life. In today’s day and age, when we over rely on technology to make our existence easier and more convenient, we are greatly sacrificing aspects of our personal privacy and security. The perfect example of this is omnipresence of smartphones in our society. While extremely useful, a wealth of information and, of course, convenient, our phones are ceaselessly transmitting enormous sums of information about us to companies such as Apple, Facebook, and Google to name a few. Our shopping preferences, political position, and favorite websites are all recorded. However, these are some of the more benign things that our phones transmit out: they also are able to determine where we live, who is in our family, and even our geographical location to a frightening level of specificity (https://www.aclu.org/issues/privacy-technology/location-tracking/cell-phone-privacy).

  19. Lucas Notarianni March 13, 2018 at 1:09 pm #

    Tim Wu has a good point in stating that convenience dictates many of our decisions we make. Even if it is not the best choice, it is the easiest, which is why we care more about solutions than the journey. Convenience has many benefits to society, but as Wu conveys it does not give people the sense of pride, individuality, and struggle; however, I believe that the reward outweighs the downsides of convenience.
    I agree with Wu that convenience does not give people a sense of pride. He did not say this specifically, but he shows this through the coffee example. He says “I prefer to brew my coffee, but Starbucks instant is so convenient I hardly ever do what I prefer”. He shows how he just wants the easiest outcome, even if it is not as good. In my case it would be washing my car. It is much easier for me to go to the carwash down the street than it is to get all my materials out and wash the car, which takes more time. I prefer to wash it myself though because I feel an extra sense of joy. I take my time doing a better job for free than the carwash paying $6. The convenience of going through the carwash does not give me the sense of pride of my own product, possibly similar to Wu preferring to make his own coffee. I still go to that carwash though, even if it is much costlier. All in all, there is no sense in ownership of services, which is why I agree with Wu that “convenience is all destiny, no journey”. The goal though is to wash the car or make the coffee, which is done in the quickest time as possible through specialization of these services which boosts productivity for my day and Wu’s. I will wash my car if I have the luxury of time to, but I can get more done in a day by going to the carwash.
    In addition to pride, there is little struggle in daily life activities. If I do not know something, I can ask my phone or a home pod without even lifting my finger anymore. Before I would have to go on google on the computer and search it, which is easy and convenient, but now I can just talk to google. There is no reason for me to store any knowledge when I can find it a second from now. I can store more in my brain now than I could before remembering trivial information. Back in the day, people would have to travel to a library and look through books to find information, or when it comes to household activities use trial-and-error or based on knowledge from others. This is much harder because they have to remember and access this information. I now do not even need to know how to do many skilled choirs because there is an easy “how to” video on Youtube one click away for everything. We are very dependent on these technologies, which is why Wu may have some disliking towards convenience. We have many of these tools that create free time. I do not see it as much of a bad thing as Wu makes it out to be. Sure, there is more conformity, most of Americans use iPhone even though there are plenty of good options, places like Amazon, Walmart and fast food places thrive on convenience creating monopolies based on consumer preference. We have more choices but choose less. Life is not as hard, there is less struggle, meaning no individual success, but there also are more people riding the wave of comfort than there were in the past. All in all, there may be less journeys, but people can step aside and create these journeys on their own, instead of being born into always having to work. People can rest and relax with convenience, they can find enlightenment instead of wasting their time doing the choirs. We are not hunters and gatherers with survival on the mind, we are intellects who can choose the journey we want to take while enjoying our time with more leisure and entertainment.

  20. Antonio Macolino March 13, 2018 at 9:22 pm #

    This article was very thought provoking. As humans of the 21st century we are almost programmed to believe that everything in life must be done in an efficient and convenient manner. From doing actual work to just watching TV, everything must be done in the most timely manner possible in which we exert the least amount of effort. I agree with most of what was said in the article. While convenience is obviously not a bad thing, it is not necessarily the best thing for us as a society.
    With everything being convenient nowadays, I feel that future generations will become lazier and lazier and will lack a good work ethic. I see it in my own life as well. I take so many technologies I have today for granted. Because I have come accustomed to getting things quickly and easily, my work ethic is not as strong as it should be. With our convenient society today, people realize less and less the wonderful feeling of putting in hard work and getting something out of it. Since everything is convenient and easy nowadays, life becomes a little bit more mundane as the article states. No one today knows what it feels like to have to wait every week to watch their favorite show that airs once a week, because everyone can now just access entire seasons on Netflix instantly. These little pleasures of waiting for something we want, or putting in extra work to get something are becoming feelings of the past. Unfortunately, the only thing any business or even person for that matter is concerned about, is figuring out the most convenient way to do something so that they can exert as little effort as possible.
    Another point brought up in the article that I agree with is that the rise of the tech monopolies we have today such as Google and Amazon would not be possible if it were not for convenience. Since these companies’ inception, they have always tried to innovate and find ways to make their interfaces more convenient for people to use. What people do not realize is that the more convenient these platforms became, the more people started to use them and the more they started to grow. Because of our convenience crazed society, Amazon and Google are now giant monopolies that virtually control the industry of the internet.

  21. Zachary Corby March 13, 2018 at 10:19 pm #

    The convenience factor is something that drives American markets and the American life today, yet it is truly not good for the public. Consumers will always substitute convenience for hard work, because like the article says they care much more about the destination instead of the process. If something can get done quicker and it has the same result if you were to work hard on it, why would you not want to save the time? People value convenience so much because they value their time extremely high. With extra time you can relax more, hang out with friends and family, watch more television shows. No one cares in this day and age about how a job gets done as long as it is done. Look at the fast food market for example. People continually go to places like McDonalds, Wendy’s, and Taco Bell because it is convenient for them. The food is nowhere near off the charts great, but it is acceptable, and they can save a lot of time and hassle from actually making your own, or having to go sit down and wait for a freshly prepared meal. The article makes a good point about convenience in relation to downloading music. The majority of people will prefer to just buy the songs on the phone rather then go through a whole process of having to download them first and then put them on the phone. This has again changed by Spotify and apple music subscriptions. Now consumers can pay a flat monthly fee and have access to thousands of songs and are able to download them. While I am sure this does not pay for a lot of the people who subscribe to these services, it is extremely convenient. Physical labor jobs are always available to people because no one wants to do them. Kids are still able to go door to door and make a lot of money shoveling in the winter; lawn care businesses are very profitable because people would rather save time than money. The technology industry is beginning to prove the idea of convenience time and time again. Social media allows people to speak their mind with the push of a few buttons. Now technologies like uber eats is allowing for people to have meals delivered to their doors in ways that were never possible. All of this convenience is well and great, but I worry for the future of kids who live in these societies. Without hard work and inevitable failures, character will be very hard to build into the future generations. Kids will also not learn about what the feeling of gratification is because that is something that is only felt through hard work. The idea of the Jetsons is closer then we think to becoming an actual reality. Convenience sells and as long as people continue to innovate and make things easier on the life of people money will be made. At the end of the day I do not see any roadblocks in the way to convenience overtaking the way the world goes.

  22. Samara Simboli March 14, 2018 at 11:05 am #

    Convenience in today’s society is something that is very vital and important. Being that everyone is so busy and does not want to spend time going to a different location to complete a menial task. We are so busy and fast-moving that of something is not right in front of us and at our fingertips, we might think twice about completing that task. Convenience is something that I to rely on, though it is not always the best thing as it can be seen as taking the easy way out. But it seems to be almost innate for us to gravitate towards the easiest way to do something. When deciding to do something or go someplace we think about whether or not the place is convenient for us. In fact, many ideas such as convenient stores have come to life to make retail stores a one-stop shop for a consumer, that way everything that the person needs is housed in one location and no need to go elsewhere.
    With Amazon’s invention of Prime and Amazon itself, it caused consumers to be able to really rely on convenience that fits into their very busy lifestyles. If you were to watch a television program, chances are that during commercial breaks there will be a commercial about some company or service that lets you order something online and have it delivered to your house so that way you do not have to go to a store. For example, Casper Mattress, a brand that sells mattresses, pillows, and sheets will deliver all the items to your door in a nice box so that way you do not have to go to the mattress store and deal with the salesman and fees associated with going to the store. People do not like to have to rearrange their schedules and do things that force them to do something that they do not want to do or have time to get done. Some might even say that during our time of convenience, many of us have gotten lazy and have relied on just having everything brought to us rather than us going to get what we need. I personally think that having things brought to us might save us time as there are only 24 hours in a day, but there might be 27 things that need to get done. Sometimes it just saves time to have groceries delivered to you rather than having to drive to Kings and find a parking spot, then having to find what you are looking for than waiting in line to pay. It just wastes time that some people might not have.

  23. Ryan Mack March 16, 2018 at 4:23 pm #

    Almost everything around us today, everything we have and probably use on a daily basis, have at least one thing in common: that they make things easier and more convenient for us. A New York Times Article by Tim Wu talks about how convenience, despite all its benefits, can be tyrannical and rob us of individuality. Convenience can be counter-productive by making us ordinary and in some ways lazy. American society seems to be built around convenience, especially since it is a huge economic factor. There is value in doing hard work that more and more people, especially younger ones, miss out on or don’t strengthen because they take the easiest way. Attributes such as patience, endurance, determination, all types of skills, and perseverance, among other things contribute to who we are as a person or individual and too much convenience is taking that away. Sometimes I like that feeling of accomplishment when I complete something that might have been difficult to achieve instead of having it handed to me. There are too many people today who try to just hold out their hand. I agree with the author when he says we need to take the hard path sometimes, to climb the mountain instead of taking the tram to the top. There are tons of products and services that are sold that intend to simply our lives. Their creators were actually smart to capitalize on inconvenience. Many times convenient beats free. Often we see convenience as worth a payment, and are willing to pay more for convenience. For example we get accessory packages on cars so we don’t have to take the key out of our pocket, we pay people to do maintenance we could do ourselves, we pay for upgraded internet service, TV packages, and Netflix that allows us to stream TV shows and movies quickly even when we aren’t home, we buy new phones and laptops for features like continuity and wireless charging, and we even pay tolls to take the shortest & most convenient exit. Fast food, microwavable food, and prepped food is convenient, but tends to be unhealthy, to not taste as good as if it were prepared or cooked normally, and to get tiring after a while. The idea behind creating convenience was to minimize or make efficient labor intensive tasks in order to go do other things, but we usually only go and fill up this time with other work anyway. This article is one that has relevance to almost everyone in modern America, and we should try to follow its message to sometimes resist the power of easy.

  24. Olivia Mason April 12, 2018 at 3:35 pm #

    Convenience drives almost everything that we do from where we go, what we buy and how we do things. Convenience is perhaps one of the largest influential factors that humans have now, and this is particularly the case here in America. Perhaps the reason that convenience is such an influence in America is due to the fact that this country is seen as a breeding ground for innovation and technology, something other countries can’t necessarily claim for themselves. The most interesting topic brought up by the author Tim Wu is that convenience almost goes hand in hand with monopolization.
    Take Amazon for example. In America, it is considered one of the biggest competitors for almost all businesses as it has a hand in almost all markets. Perhaps the most notable of its acquisitions is whole foods; with this it allows shoppers to order groceries online and have them delivered to their door. It’s the ease of the same-day shipping for low prices (or free two-day shipping if you’re a prime member), and still low prices for non-prime members standard shipping (about a week). This convenience allows for customers to get everything they need or want without ever leaving their house, and standard of convenience makes it hard for others to compete. Once the standard is set, things have to be more convenient for others to switch, this makes it incredibly hard for smaller business to compete as they can’t afford the innovation that Amazon can, as well as they can’t afford to take losses that Amazon can afford to. The fact that Amazon is a form of monopoly due to its convenience factor is highlighted when comparing its operations in Canada to those in America. In Canada, Amazon isn’t as powerful as it is in America. While it still is a threat to companies, the convenience factor isn’t as present as it is in America. They don’t have hold of grocers in Canada in order to enter that market, shipping prices are quite high, and the actual shipping itself takes a much longer time period (most of Canada is quite rural, so standard shipping is the only option). These factors make Amazon less convenient for consumers, and as such it is used less as the traditional method of bricks and mortar stores are still more convenient.

  25. Luis F Gonzalez Jr April 26, 2018 at 4:06 pm #

    Convenience is an underrated value for Americans. Many people don’t see, understand or acknowledge it which is why it is a big component in modern businesses. It relates to various theories but specifically to the utopian ideology. With every industrial and technological boom, things become easier and accomplished in a shorter time. By nature, we like doing less and making things less complicated. We try to invent news way to speed production and lessen costs. We try to avoid trivial tasks by replacing them with small machines that will do it for us. We believe that with more time to focus on the big things, and less time on the unimportant tasks we will achieve a revelation. A perfect society where individuals do not need to work for anything because it will be given and the individuals will be treated like gods. A perfect utopia of culture and ethics.

    Convenience in modern society isn’t to create a utopia but instead it is used as a control mechanism. The firms persuade you with their marketing tactics to make you addicted to their service and goods. To make you believe that they will make life easier by giving what you desire in an easier and cheaper method. They integrate themselves into your daily tasks and try to use your natural instinct of finding faster ways as their advantage. Convenience and laziness are complementary because the more convenience you have, the lazier you will be. Most people do not understand that laziness isn’t just an action but an addiction. The less you do, the more you crave for the firms to give you and the more fulfilling you find them. Going back will be hard because you find things to be slow and feel burden on your shoulders as others fly past you with the usage of the firm’s help. The mountain of tasks, that you never minded, feel like work and form a feeling of enslavement. Being lazy makes you weak minded and more inclined to mentally break, relapsing to the firm’s service and goods.

    Convenience is not a step forward to utopia for the common man but for the man wise enough to realize human nature’s flaw. The man who acknowledges his own desires to be his own flaws will prevent this fall. He will use it against others and make it his weapon, creating his own utopia. The concept of utopia is misunderstood, a complete society isn’t possible but an individual’s complete perspective, which we may call his world, is a complete society if he accepts the truth. Men who conquer and rule the world understand this concept and use this natural value to be successful in creating a better and perfect world for themselves. This concept correlates to the idea of every men is egocentric, looking only for themselves but those who realize this mistake, will understand the game of life.

  26. M.E.R May 18, 2018 at 9:59 pm #

    The article does a good job ensuring the readers that convenience should not always be looked at through the lens evil, there is a whole host good that is “convenience”. The article lists the Sony Walkman as a good starting point. I would argue that hundreds of years before laid the foundation for trying to make everything in one’s life more as convenient as possible. An invention that comes to mind is the first aqueduct to be built in during Rome’s empire. Invention like these laid way to men and women (mainly men during this time) to devote their time to better improve their life along with societies life as well. Inventions likes these gave free time to individuals to really sit down and think, allowing them to come up with new inventions, new ways to run the government ect.
    Convenience allows us to get rid of those none added value aspects of our life in order to focus on the more pressing issues. Being able to simply wash one’s clothing in a wash machine instead of doing it by hand allows a person a vast amount of extra hours in their week or even month to address more prominent issues. Tim Wu points out a very fundamental point that I have to agree with. This idea that the lack of struggle, hard work, discipline is being replaced by convenience is ultimately driving a wedge between fulfilled life and life built around meaningless activities.
    I see this taking place in my everyday life as well. I have fell victim to this and so has everyone else. We tend to sit here and play the victim card when things get hard. We complain as students that there is just too much work, or the professor is being unfair. We refuse to take any type of responsibility for our own life. It seems to me that if something even seems like it would be hard, we know have a tendency to shy away from it. Convenience, while having done a whole lot of good in our society also creates people who never push themselves to a new level, are afraid of doing anything hard and it can ultimately lead to them living an unfulfilled life.
    Convenience has certainly shaped our capitalist society too. I personally can’t remember the last time I took a cab when I was in any city. As a person who is in New York City enough to justify using a cab; I always use Uber. Why? It is so much more convenient to call a car to exactly where you are and the exact time that you want, all done with a cheaper price and never needing to step foot out on the street to wait for a cab to come to you. We become spoiled. If I had to take a cab, or not not use my phone to navigate around it would really be annoying. We have become so accustomed to seeing out apps, technology, stores, ect. to
    ensure that we have an easier, more convenient life we forget the work it took to get to this point.
    I try to remember that through hard work, discipline, and ownership comes a sense of worth that no amount of convenience can substitute. Life’s a journey, and when we are handed everything or at least everything is made fairly easy we forget how to put in the work needed to succeed. I really like the last paragraph as well. Tim states “We must never forget the joy of doing something slow and something difficult, the satisfaction of not doing what is easiest”. That feeling of pushing past resistance, going farther than you thought you could, should never be taken away. It makes use who we are. And if we never did anything difficult as a society we would not have these amazing conveniences as well. We need to remember where we came from and never lose sight of that. It is a fine balancing act that we are losing, and hopefully can tip the scales the other way to ensure that most people understand hard work and appreciate and respect the grind while still using the convenience’s we have built into our society.

Leave a Reply