The Convenience Culture
12 March 2021
What is wrong with the world today? This may be a question you hear from time to time, perhaps when in a conversation with family or friends. Perhaps this is a question that you find yourself asking as well. Sometimes when we ask ourselves this question, it may be only a rhetorical question. Asking it only to provide the seemingly obvious answer of what is actually wrong with the world. This is a path I have taken myself many times. Today though I am not here to preach the answers I believe are right regarding what is wrong, but to discuss an element of society that many believe to be the answer.
The answer that is supplied by many when this question is proposed, is that there is a fundamental flaw in the culture of our society. What exactly that flaw is can vary based on the person’s perspective. Different people will point to different aspects of the culture as the main culprit for making the world the horrible place that it supposedly is. Since the concept of culture is comprised of a multitude of elements that in turn dictate the culture, it is easy for the blame to be placed on our society’s culture.
There is a certain element of our modern culture that I have noticed. An element that has invaded our values and dictated our behavior, and though it may have been a part of our culture all along, it seems more prevalent than ever. This element that I have come to observe is that we are a culture that values convenience. This may seem obvious and self-evident to many, yet I’m not sure that it has been truly called out as a destructive force in our society.
The place that thinkers see the results of a convenience culture most distinctively is in the problem of societal stagnation. Many have tackled this subject, and there are a variety of forces at play that amount to the overall stagnation that our society is facing. As I review different pieces of work regarding stagnation as well as even the various forces being examined as individual problems, I see the effects of convenience culture. Yet the interesting part is that I have yet to hear of anyone call out our stagnation as a result of convenience culture.
An example of this that I hear quite frequently is that young men are spending more time playing video games or satisfying themselves with porn and are less likely to go out and find a mate. This of course then has effects on the birthrates of the country, and in turn, causes society to become aged and less dynamic. Analysis like this seems to assume that many young men rather just play video games than have sex. Which is the case, not because they enjoy the video games more than sex though, but because courting a mate isn’t as easy and in a convenience culture you always just take the easiest route possible.
In a convenience culture that is always the underlying motivation. How can I get the most pleasure in the easiest way possible? Therefore, we live in a society where videos are more popular than the written word. Where people don’t move to new places, not because they wouldn’t want to live in a new place, but because moving to a new place (especially one that you don’t have any ties with) can be extremely daunting and difficult. These are just ways that the convenience culture portrays itself in the data, and this same data is interpreted as signs of societal stagnation.
Though there are plenty of people who break through the desire and allure of the convenience culture in certain elements of their life, yet they are still subject to the forces of the convenience culture in other aspects of their lives. There is a paradox to the convenience culture that affects us all. It has been the plight of human beings to work to improve the human condition and make things easier. Could that desire for convenience be our downfall though?