What Cost Convenience?

clip_image001Do we value convenience so much that we are turning into characters from Pixar Animation’s 2008 movie WALL-E?

I was listening to NPR’s On Point recently and had to snicker at the juxtaposition of two of the topics.

The first discussion was about the diabetes crisis in America, “The Diabetes Surge.” When talking about Type 2 diabetes, most of the guests agreed that poor diet and lack of physical activity were the major culprits (although they admitted that there was a genetic factor, too).

During a discussion of what foods were good and what were bad, one guest said that, if their grandmother wouldn’t recognize a food, Americans shouldn’t eat it. Most guests agreed a good share of people are aware of good nutritional habits but don’t follow them.

Tom Ascroft, the show’s host, asked, “Why not?” The guests seemed to skirt what I think is the primary reason: convenience.

We don’t cook like our great-grandparents did because it takes too long. Americans, to survive financially, live busy lives. Let’s face it; it’s a lot easier to pop something in a microwave or hit the drive-through at the fast food restaurant on the way home from work than it is to cook a meal from scratch. After putting in a full day at work, not counting an aggravating commute, who wants to come home and spend another two hours cooking?

The next segment, “The Rise of Robots in Our Everyday Lives,” talked about how robots are becoming more prevalent in our society and taking over “mundane” tasks. We already have robots that clean the pool or vacuum and wash the floors. Soon we could have robots doing our laundry, mowing the lawn, maybe even dusting. (I’d like one of those!)

Why do we like these robots? Convenience! We don’t have time or energy to put in the physical effort required for housework or yard work. We have just enough energy each evening to snuggle into our recliners with a bag of chips and succumb to the call of the siren Television.

I was standing on line at the store the other day (with the Internet, that may become a thing of the past, too) and realized just how many people, including me, were overweight. The picture of the humans in WALL-E popped into my head – all obese in floating easy chairs with nutritional drinks that look like milkshakes in their soft, pudgy hands.

Is that our future? Have Americans sacrificed their health at the altar of the God of Convenience?

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