Not long ago, a friend told me about Rover, a new app that helps you find people to walk your dog for you as well as find dog sitters. Then I saw it for myself on a TV that was littering a room I was visiting yesterday.
It’s easy to just glance over this and dismiss it with a shrug and say, “Whelp, just one more weird thing in this crazy world.” But, I find this to be a really good example of a general principle in tech:
Exactly contrary to what proponents of tech claim, tech never makes people less busy. These con-artists and their victims always paint a picture of a world in which the common man becomes ever freer from the burdens of day-to-day cares and can instead devote himself to more meaningful pursuits; family, friendships, art, knowledge, philosophy, etc.
At best, all tech can do is divert human focus from one area to another. “At best” because given the extreme sensory-stimulating nature to which practically all consumer-level tech’s development is devoted, the great probability is that tech will offer an ever growing smorgasbord of distractions too enticing for the average consumer (who is, after all, the target market) to turn away from. In practical terms, this means that people will constantly feel busier and busier and despair more and more of ever having the kind of “free time” they need to pursue anything worthwhile.
Indeed, “freed” as we are of the burdens of the tough physical labor that most of our great-grandparents (and literally everybody that preceded them) shouldered, we feel truly overwhelmed with tasks! Of course, it would be daunting, if not impossible, to conduct a scientific-quality comparison between the people of today being stressed out by the demands of life versus people of 200, 500, or 1000 years ago, but what we do know is this: since the industrialization of man, there has been a steady increase in conditions like anxiety and depression, a mostly steady climb in suicide, a shrinking of family size, a conspicuous diminishing of social cohesion and social engagement. This comes in sharp contrast to non-industrialized cultures that still exist today.
Less marriage and less families; and when there are families, they are comprised of far less children, and yet people still feel incredibly busy! Tech was supposed to save us from exactly this! Stop buying this crap about the Universal Basic Income ushering in some amazing new era of liberation from work which will in turn lead to a new flowering of human genius. It should be completely obvious that nothing could be further from the truth!
So with less work than ever before and less kids than ever before, it would be easy to assume that people could walk their own fricking dogs, right? Nope. Okay, well maybe by living such unencumbered-by-drudgery lives, the people of today are so well-connected to other people that surely they already know people who could walk their dogs or dog-sit for them, right? Haha, no again! You need an app for that. Feel like a sucker yet?
What a sad world this tech world is. How can a person contemplate it and not want to see it deconstructed with the greatest possibly quickness?
Look, work is one of the constants of normal life. I don’t romanticize the pre-modern world – as is the habit with some anarcho-primitivists – as a world of leisure. No, there is clearly plenty of work in non-industrialized living. All I’m saying is that the work is better on many counts. Pre-industrial work tends to keep you physically fit, tends to keep in you close connection with others and foster camaraderie, and tends to give you time to think. Almost all of our truly valuable achievements in knowledge, art, religion, and philosophy came from the time when labor was largely manual and the mind was thus freed. I have seen this in my own life as well; when I had once centered my livelihood on mind-work, I found it very depressing, but when I returned to earning my livelihood from physical labor, I was much happier and I produced much more in terms of intellect and spirit.
One last thing: most people, even a good many people of above-average intelligence, are simply not suited to deriving satisfaction from work that is of too abstract a character. I plan to talk about this next time.
In closing, put the phone down, people. Get rid of the tech in your life that is making you so busy and preventing you from knowing people face-to-face that could do some dog-walking / dog-sitting for you when you are away from home. Better yet, delete your facebook account, et al, and start walking your own damn dog.