The disposability of modern life

Despite being a child of the 80’s; one who was the remote control for the family and recalls with wondrous clarity the arrival of a fifth television channel, I’m guilty of this as much as anyone.

Perhaps not the millennial youth of today, but that’s another matter entirely.

What I mean by disposability is that none of us truly have to work for things any more. Remember waiting a week for the next instalment of a TV show? Remember sitting down together in front of the single, 14” television in one room at a specific time? Remember all scrambling during an advert break to use the toilet or make a drink?

Compare that to today: hundreds, thousands of movies and entire series of tv shows on demand through multiple platforms. TV when you want it, where you want it. Feel like taking a bath? No problem, just switch your Netflix from the smart tv to the iPad (other streaming services and devices are available) and carry on watching.

I know you know all this, and while some of us remember how hard life was when we had to get out of our seats to change channel, this is just how the world is now, right?

Right. But that doesn’t mean we should take that ‘everything on demand’ attitude with us everywhere.

Take books, for example. Some time ago in the way back when, before the on demand world allowed people like me to publish a book without the standard backstory of a decade of rejection letters, getting a negative review was a big thing. Nowadays it’s easy; one star, leave a few words if you feel like it, move on. No appreciation for the damage that could do because, hey, it’s the internet; it’s not real.

Now this is not a ‘poor me, negative reviews are mean and hurt my feelings’ post. Not one bit. As much as I dislike seeing vague evidence that someone didn’t like my stuff, I’m more interested as to why. Who doesn’t want to improve what they do? Who wouldn’t take the opportunity to learn and evolve if it was offered?

Well, lazy people, that’s who.


I mean, would you take the time to hit the drive-thru and enjoy a quarter pounder with cheese, regular fries and a refreshing sugar-free beverage (other fast food outlets are available) but because the line was a little busy and your day was delayed by a few entire minutes you decide to be mean to the disembodied voice behind the intercom. What about the food? The actual purpose of being there in the first place? All of that gets lost in the moan, and that’s where we’re losing sight of what’s important.

I visited a family member in hospital recently, and while the person in the next bed had obviously been waiting for their cup of tea for some time, given how much they were shouting about it, I had to consider how their demands made the nursing staff feel. Yes, your tea took a whole ten minutes to get made and brought to your bed, but how many people did I see working there? Not enough.

I had no idea what they had seen and dealt with in their working day. I had no idea what they had left undone and unsaid at home to get to work on time, and I had no idea what they would be going back to.

Just because that ‘patient’ (other descriptions are available) was entitled to have a drink brought to them, did the timing of their whim mean that it was okay to talk to someone like they did?

The constant stream of passive aggressive social media updates clearly aimed at someone, the blasting of a car horn because the person in front is going too slow for you, the angry mutterings because the person looking to buy a gift is in your way… all of these things happen every minute of every day and none of it, absolutely none of it is necessary.

There is a person on the receiving end of each throwaway negative comment on the internet. There is a human being behind your indignant complaint over the speed of service.

With Christmas happening next week, think about the people who aren’t looking forward to it.

Think about the people who are discussing over the proverbial water cooler how they actually get a day off around the holidays this year, and how they have to have their family’s Christmas Day on Christmas Eve because one of the parents has to work a night shift to keep people safe. Think about the people who (and I have been one of these people for a very long period of my life) aren’t looking forward to that holiday cheer because they know they’ll be dealing with robberies, burglaries, drunkenness and domestic disturbances instead of the happiness they deserve.

It’s called Christmas cheer (other religious holidays are available) for a reason, so this year, if you can, remember just one thing: try not to be a dick!