Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Conveniences in modern society

I was browsing a forum, I occasionally check, and one of the topics was on conveniences. It occurs to me that what the people on that site considered conveniences, I don't really see as conveniences.

It didn't mention important things like running water, cars, electricity, proper plumbing, access to medicine, proper housing, etc. I suppose that is because the people on the site don't consider them conveniences. I assume that they see them as essentials, even though a fairly large percentage of the human population have to make do with out them or if they do have them they are insufficient.

Things mentioned were things that aren't essential, purely convenient, could easily do without. Some of the things mentioned as being convenient are in my opinion not convenient when you really think about them. Sure some are convenient though frivolous like the clapper (sound activated electrical switch), automatic doors, motorized windows in cars, etc. Other things only appear to be convenient or are both convenient and nuisances.

One of the things mentioned is automated registers at grocery stores. I don't know about you but I hate them. Beyond the fact that they are taking away some jobs when you live in an area with a rising unemployment rate (9-20% depending on your race where I live). I find them to be very annoying since they frequently get prices wrong and break. Since none of the employees seems to know how to fix them, it seems to me that it makes some of the lines longer. A couple of the stores I've gone to had them for a short while but because of continuous problems with them they ended up removing them. I'm also assuming that they were removed because some people have found ways to cheat them (depending on the particular machine they can occasionally be tricked ex. scan one coupon multiple times or changing labels on item with a cheaper similar item).

Another convenience that is as much a nuisance as it is a convenience is cell phones. Yes it's nice to be able to call anyone anywhere but I find them damn annoying. Some peoples cell phones are really small and occasionally you'll think they are talking to you when they are really talking to someone else. A lot people are extremely rude on the phones and will ignore you when you want to talk to them. I hate when I go to the movies,library, or church and someones phone goes off and they just start talking. I hate that while your talking to the person their phone rings, so they pick it up and start talking in mid conversation with you. A side effect of cell phones is that there are less phone booths which, even though I never really used them much, I find annoying because I did use them occasionally and don't have a cell phone. Plus they are expensive 50 dollars a month or so.

Credit, debit, and gift cards were mentioned as a convenience and it's true debit and credit cards can be convenient when used properly. The problem is a fairly large percentage of the population do not use them properly. More people are in debt than not. Credit cards can have expensive fees/interest rates and people will use debit cards to purchase things that they don't have the money for in the account incurring over draft fees. Gift cards though are just stupid. Give the person cash. Some gift cards expire or decrease in value if not used within a certain amount of time. People are more likely to lose gift cards than cash. All your really doing is giving the business cash which they invest to make more cash. If you do purchase gift cards make sure you get something free with it or that the card is worth more than you pay e.g. occasionally can get a 25 dollar gift card for 20 dollars. Then use the card quickly.

Many conveniences are also environmentally unfriendly. Some can be done easily by hand and just waste electricity like auto-opening doors. Some stuff that is supposedly packaged conveniently is really over packaged waste of packaging material.

I can probably continue listing inconvenient conveniences but I think you get my point. Some "conveniences" aren't really conveniences.

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