October 26, 2018

Cornucopia / Cynthia Dewes

Why are we in such a hurry? Time-savers and our devices

Cynthia DewesThe lady who cuts my hair has a little 2-year-old who sometimes cutely appears while his mother is working, so she has to pause for a moment and see what he needs. One day he was hungry, so she popped out to give him some lunch. She returned so fast I was surprised, but she told me she made him something quick: a frozen peanut butter and jelly sandwich with crusts removed, which she’d heated in the microwave

Being out of the loop of modern times, I was amazed. Who knew you could get a kid’s lunch together in an instant? And even with the crusts removed. Of course, having six kids to feed in a hurry was a different story, but I digress.

If you think about it, the number of conveniences, time-savers and prepared items top the list of consumer goods. We can get out of bed at the last minute, put the frozen peanut butter and jelly sandwich in the lunch pail so it will be thawed and ready when he or she eats lunch, feed him or her instant cooked cereal and send them out to the school bus in minutes.

Then we can start the laundry with the pre-set washing machine ready with the detergent/bleach/softener product. Of course, we’ll have to put the clothes in the dryer, but that’s later after we’ve had a cup of instant coffee and bakery doughnut to sustain us while we wait. Meanwhile, we may watch one of the 150 channels on the TV.

When the kids return from school, they can eat their commercially prepared snack and then do their homework as fast as possible, using their laptop and calculator. After that, they can start in on one of their devices. They may take pictures, access social media sites or send texts and Instagrams to their friends, and sometimes to their enemies if no one’s watching.

Dinner may consist of more frozen, deli or prepared foods eaten off paper plates to save time and effort. Then follows more TV time and devices and baths before bed. The end to a perfect day.

Now, my question is: What will we do with all the time we save? Perhaps we have work outside the home which demands more attention. Maybe we cook gourmet meals with exotic ingredients, as per the TV cooking shows. Maybe we listen to audio books while we’re doing something else, like working out or jogging or making a list for the house cleaner when she comes.

Don’t imagine that I am sneering at time-savers, because I’m not. I appreciate them and use them as much as anyone, but I do worry about what all this convenience is doing to us. Think about the obesity problem in this country. Maybe if we actually shopped for and cooked food from scratch, we’d use up more calories and slim down.

Maybe if we turned off the devices, we’d be less distracted and actually learn more by reading a book or taking a class.

Maybe if we (gasp!) wrote a letter or picked up the phone or visited a friend, we’d make memories and have meaningful conversations. We might even learn something about them or about ourselves. Meanwhile, I’m staying out of my recliner, foregoing my snack and turning off my TV. God gave us brains and bodies, so we’d better use them.

(Cynthia Dewes, a member of St. Paul the Apostle Parish in Greencastle, is a regular columnist for The Criterion.)

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