I was at the airport the other day, you know, being the jet-setting international man of mystery that I am, and I found my self on a travelator.
You know, one of those horizontal escalators.
I didn’t mean to do it. I’d been sleeping on the plane, and was still in a bit of a daze. I had my mind on other things, and just followed the general flow of people off the plane, through the gate and towards that baggage claim…
And on to a travelator.
And there I found myself stuck in a queue about 6 deep, with a few couples and a bit of baggage. Once they hit the travelator, they all just stopped. There’s was no getting past.
I just had to wait to get to the end of the line.
As I stood there, getting slowly shunted along like a fleshy package on a conveyor belt, two young men on the outside walked past me. They were footy players and had a spring in their step, and they were laughing and carrying on as they strode past me in my assembly line of pudge and pastry.
It was a shock. What the hell am I doing?!?
What am I, 90? Why am I allowing this stupid machine to treat me like an invalid?
I hate travelators. Sure, maybe if I was lugging a Santa’s sack of luggage. But all I had was my carry-on, with a sturdy set of wheels.
Walking with it hardly takes effort.
And that’s what I hate about them. They’re a machine designed to save people the effort of walking.
The “effort of walking”?? Do we really live in age where ‘walking’ is a burden? Really? Is that where we’re setting the bar now?
Hot stock tip: Take on an exposure to the intravenous drip industry. Once people realise there’s a device that can save them from the ‘effort of chewing’, drips will sell like hot cakes.
Pre-digested hot cakes.
Same story with escalators. I went to one of those big shopping boxes the other day, and you couldn’t actually avoid them. If you wanted to move between levels, it seemed your only option was to use an escalator.
(Though there’s also an evil intent here too. They set out to herd you past as many other shops as possible on your way to and from your destination.)
But the irony is striking. At a time where obesity is becoming one of the biggest health challenges we face, technology is taking away the few opportunities for physical exertion we have.
Imagine you work in an office. You get up, have breakfast, drive to work. Catch the elevator to your floor. Get back in your car at the end of the day. Stop by the shopping box. Catch escalators to the shops you want. Get drive through on the way home. Park yourself in front of the tv til you fall asleep…
How many miles have you actually covered today? Not even one. You’ve probably walked, what, maybe 300m – for the entire day!
Your cave-man ancestors would have done that just to find a nice place to take a poop.
And if we know one thing about the human organism, it’s a ‘use it or lose it’ type thing. If you don’t work your muscles they get soft and spudgy. And this includes vital muscles like your heart and lungs.
So what do we do about it?
Well I think we need to push back against a technology that’s making everything easy for us. And that means going out of our way to make our day difficult.
It means always looking for the harder option. Ignoring the escalator and taking the stairs. Ditching the trolley and carrying your shopping. Walk more and car less.
Make the harder option a rule.
The modern world is out to get you. It wants to make you fat and useless. You need to step up to the fight. And see the whole world and the whole day as your personal training gym.
(I know it’s kind of ridiculous that it’s come to making everything as hard as possible, but hey, I didn’t invent travelators.)
But this isn’t just about physical exertion.
It’s also about our minds. We’ve outsourced our memories and much of our processing to computers and phones, and it’s making us dull.
When I was a kid I knew every one of my friend’s phone numbers by heart. Now I sometimes get hazy about my own phone number.
And we don’t try and figure stuff out any more either. Can’t fix something around the house? Just google it. Don’t know what the word ‘atavistic’ means? Just go to dictionary.com.
We don’t spend as much time guessing and rolling things around in our mind as we used to. But guessing is a creative act. It’s about taking different shapes in our mind and seeing how they fit together.
We had to work for it a little. We had to imagine what each character looked and sounded like. Imagine what their house and garden were like.
Now TV and movies do all the work for us. We know how things look and how they sound because we’re told. And we’ve lost patience with anything that doesn’t keep us constantly juiced on novelty.
Like we’re afraid of any time at all in our own heads. But our heads are the seat of imagination, so is imagination at risk too?
Now I can kind of deal with a future where fat humans are wheeled about in robotic carts. But without intellect, creativity, curiosity and imagination, we’re stripped of the most beautiful aspects of humanity, and the vision is horrifying.
Technology is trying to destroy the human species. And it’s not some gun-toting terminator machine. It’s heated toilet-seats, predictive text and automated reverse parking.
Time to take up the fight.
If take you every convenience the world has to offer you, you’ll end up fat, dull and stupid.
…are you a travelator type of person or prefer the other experience?