Defining efficiency against laziness: Which technologies end up spoiling us?

Op-Ed by Haresh Daswani

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There is nothing really wrong with technology. The evolution of communications has helped us become more efficient in getting our job done, and relaying our messages at a faster time. I do recall the time I did not have such communications, and how much time delay I will have to set in getting the job done because I cannot move without the other party giving their response. Now, it is all real time, in fact too real time. I am deprived of sleep given that anyone can call me anytime. This is the price I am willing and happy to pay to make the most out of who I can be and how I can serve.

But technology can also promote laziness. For instance, realizing that certain appliances now have remote control so that we do not really have to get out of our couch to turn them off (like an electric fan, for instance) is downright ridiculous. The world is not suffering from obesity due to the volume of food we are all eating. This whole scam about calories and carbohydrates really omits one main reality on why people are gaining weight – we are not getting off the couch to do something.

Imagine a lake. For a lake to remain healthy, flourishing, it needs to flow. The moment a dam is built, water accumulates. Just the same, while we take in calories, we burn it off with different activities. The moment we do not do anything active, none of them get burnt, and end up getting stored in our system as fat. It might also be observed (but not all the time) that hyper people tend to be leaner in body shape. They tend to be uneasy beings who cannot stay put, they have to do something, and look around the room constantly. This is the type of energy that makes them jumpy, and want to move around.

I have friends who wanted to get a dog because they have read that keeping dogs help a person become healthier. The moment they read that keeping dogs mean having to walk them, they declined. How do you plan to become fit with having a dog if you will not walk them? Physical activity is required to keep us healthy.

Here are some technological innovations that has caused obesity due to human abuse, a side effect of too much convenience.
– Online services: Originally marketed to help all of us find more time for other activities, online services also meant that we do not have to bother ourselves to stand up and walk to the nearest post office, or to the nearest bank, and so on, to get our task done. If we do not really have anything else to do, this means we have just given ourselves a better reason not to leave the couch.
– Remote control: A very good and convenient item, but couch potatoes who do not leave their couch for five hours straight would have been better off without a remote. This would have forced them to stand up, and switch the channels, which would burn more of those popcorn calories, rather than falling asleep on the couch.
– Tiny electric vehicles/bikes: If you have to travel a small distance, who really needs them? You can either choose to use a pedal-powered bicycle or walk to the destination. I believe that it should be a set rule, at the very least, anything within 15 minutes of walking distance should be walked to.
– Computer games: They are fun, and addictive, and they keep us from getting out of the house and play physical games. Do not be proud to be the best Warcraft player if you cannot even lift a 40-pound barbell. I learned that the hard way, and went to the gym to make up for what I missed out.

There has been nothing wrong whatsoever with the above technologies, given their humble and noble objectives. Their abuse has become the main cause of many physical devolutions. We cannot defend being lethargic, or tired, because of work, when many physical activities can actually wake us up and even refresh our mental state. Choose alternative activities that would meet more positive objectives than what is currently being done right now. Many choices are available for us, we have to mentally set ourselves to enjoy them.


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