Labour-saving devices in the modern age are slowly but surely making us use less energy to live our lives, and the slow creep might lead to us never having to lift a finger again. What will techno buffs think of next to help us conserve our calories?
On reflection have the following really good ideas benefited us in the long term? Electric windows in cars – ahh, remember the good old days when you had to wrench your arm off to wind them down. Car boots which automatically raise and lower with an annoying whirring sound – (that was the first thing to fail on our car) – so you can seamlessly place your stuff in the boot without having to use energy to lift it up. Power steering – it was so much more fun to grapple with a manual and really test your strength. Automatic doors in shops / offices – when I do come across a manual door it’s often a bit of a surprise. Escalators at the forefront of shops – no stairs to be found unless you go to the back of the shop and search for them. Even remote TV channel changers – don’t get up from your sofa! – there was a bit more getting up and down in the old days, although having just BBC1 and BBC2 meant not much need for changing channels anyway.
I remember washing day at my house was a morning’s job of dragging a week’s worth of wet washing in batches out of the wash side of the twin tub into the spin dryer, the lid of which was then manually held down as it loudly vibrated its way across the kitchen floor. It was sweaty work and we kids thought it was brilliant fun.
These days you could argue we do not need the strength that manual labour gave us, as we live in such a world where labour is saved, but I would argue we do need that strength just for our daily living, to climb stairs, lift grandchildren, carry shopping, get into food packaging, and maintain bone mineral density and metabolism. We are living longer, therefore we need to do MORE physical work, not less, to carry us through many more years.
Clearly people with disability benefit hugely from technological advancements in some areas of life, and I really support that, but for the rest of us relatively able bodied folk we could look for opportunities to make life a little more energy expending and therefore life promoting.