Friday, August 27, 2010

Reality check

We need a new dishwasher. The one we have now will be 34 years old in October and is pretty tempermental.

This thought popped into my head tonight as I was elbow deep in dishwater, which got me to thinking about how I shop almost exclusively online these days. That means that before I make any purchase I spend incalculable amounts of time reading reviews of dozens of versions of the same thing before actually making a purchase. And you know what I've discovered? People will complain about ANYTHING.

I'm thinking specifically about a yogurt maker and a thermal coffee mug that I recently ordered from Amazon. These were both painful decisions to make. The yogurt maker is something that I know I will abandon if it's not very easy to use and doesn't irritate me in one of a thousand possible ways. And the coffee mug is for my husband, who is frighteningly particular about his portable beverage containers. This is my point.

For both of these purchases I spent days, yes - days, researching all of the possibilities. It turns out that J and I are pretty status quo when it comes to our desire to have life and everything in it as tailored to each of us as possible.

It has been said before. We are selfish, egocentric convenience-junkies. We have become far too preoccupied with perfection. We are absolutely convinced that it is our right as human beings to have all of our extravagant needs and passing whims satisfied...immediately.

Problem solving in this day and age is based on avoidance. You don't like the weather, your neighbour, your school district? Move. You don't like your religion or your political party? Invent a new one. You don't like what mom cooked for dinner? Order take-out. People have so many choices that no one needs to be tolerant, or flexible, or cooperative anymore. Everyone in the car can have a different microwave-reheated burger because there are 5 fast food joints on one block.

It would not surprise me in the least to discover (though my ability to discover it would be most surprising indeed) that our species had gone extinct as a result of our unwillingness to adapt to changing conditions. No one has to try very hard anymore. There's always something out there that will make life easier. People used to sharpen pencils with razor blades. Imagine their delight when someone came up with this. I bet sales of gauze bandages plummeted. But of course, that soon became much too taxing a job for the average person requiring a sharp pencil, and so we moved on to this beauty, straight out of the fondest of my grade school memories. And, as progress progresses, the idea of having to expend any effort at all for the purposes of such a mundane goal as having a sharp pencil collided with our basic human need for things to make unnecessarily loud noises, et voilĂ .

Of course, my quarrel doesn't really lie with progress and human ingenuity. My problem is the fact that if I'm too lazy to sharpen my pencil, how do I find the motivation to sift through no less than 431 results on Amazon to decide which is the perfect sharpener for me. Come on people. Get a grip.

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