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The soft tyranny of convenience

The soft tyranny of convenience

Convenience creates a subtle kind of tyranny.

When everything presented to you is convenient, a minor inconvenience will be a big deal.

This is one drawback of capitalism. It is a system that creates and greatly values convenience. One-click purchase, same day delivery, car in 5 minutes at your front door... Friction is reduced across the board, regardless of whether it's unnecessary or necessary, moral or amoral, useful or useless.

Porn. Social media. Netflix. One could argue that we have made many of the wrong things easy to access and less convenience when it comes to satisfying our vices would be much better for all of humanity.

Of course, this isn't going to happen. It is not in human nature to restrict our own choices, at least not until we have been badly burned by making the wrong ones, and even then we can persist to our own detriment.

But back to the topic at hand. It is easier than ever to get addicted to convenience. 1 click purchase, VIP passes to skip the line, 24/7 available,... This creates a stark contrast with any choice that has not been easy by the labor of thousands of people and billions of dollars. Without a neat product for exactly what we need, any task becomes awfully inconvenient, compared to other convenient experiences at our fingertips.

In the past, convenience was not the norm. You had to work for food, warmth, or safety. The comparison was not so drastic then. Everything required effort, and when everything requires effort, it's easier to do inconvenient things because that's just life.

But now a big chunk of reality is designed by others to be convenient and those of us who become too used to it become shackled. Everything not made "for our convenience" becomes hard.

But all is not lost. On some level, we recognize this is a problem. Various people who preach doing hard things rise up in the culture, fueled by the need to escape the stifling blanket of convenience.

"Escape the comfort zone!"

"Do hard things!"

"Stay hard!"

Yes, please do.

Yet, these people say these things within platforms designed to be a convenient escape from reality. This paradox creates a tension in the mind of the consumer, but rarely enough tension to do the inconvenient thing and put the phone down.

Nevertheless, that message is worth spreading for it is sorely needed. So here I am to say:

Embrace inconvenience.

Our whole evolution, we've had to struggle to merely survive. And now we have the option to not struggle and live an easy life, and we need to find the wisdom to reject it because it's not a life at all, but merely hedonistic subsistence.

You see, inconvenience is where our character is formed. Inconvenience encompasses everything worth doing. Inconvenience is the mother of invention.

So when you finish reading this and something inconvenient comes up in your life, don't be annoyed. Embrace it. Each little annoyance and irritation is a step outside the trance of convenience.

When so much of the world is always looking for the easy way, look for a way that's worth pursuing. Take the road less traveled, despite the brambles and the thorns, to have a life worth living.