Noncey boy bollocks

But we err in presuming convenience is always good, for it has a complex relationship with other ideals that we hold dear. Though understood and promoted as an instrument of liberation, convenience has a dark side. With its promise of smooth, effortless efficiency, it threatens to erase the sort of struggles and challenges that help give meaning to life. Created to free us, it can become a constraint on what we are willing to do, and thus in a subtle way it can enslave us.

It would be perverse to embrace inconvenience as a general rule. But when we let convenience decide everything, we surrender too much.

Convenience as we now know it is a product of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, when labor-saving devices for the home were invented and marketed.

The rediscovery of Calvinism, hard work is good for you.

Bollocks.

28 comments on “Noncey boy bollocks

  1. A little adversity is character-building. An experience of hard work also counts. Continuous and pervasive hard work is not good for you. Unless you enjoy it, in which case it’s not adversity, is it? You ought to know what hard work IS, if only to know to avoid it.

  2. I started to read the original article but finally stopped when I came to this?

    “Betty Friedan looked at what household technologies had done for women and concluded that they had just created more demands. “Even with all the new labor-saving appliances,” she wrote, “the modern American housewife probably spends more time on housework than her grandmother.”

    My grandparents were born in the late 1800s. I’ll always remember my grandfather commenting that he lived in his first home with electricity after he’d served in WW1. As youths they lived in the final years of the horse and buggy era. They did not worry that their lives became emptier due to a few more conveniences in life.

    Still, the author may have a point. Obviously, he has a life full of conveniences that leave him with a bit too much time on his hands. A little hard work might do him some good. Assuming he’s American, I can tell you right now that it’s hard to find construction crews in some areas. I was told yesterday by someone who wanted to log some timber property that it is hard to find loggers. There’s still a fair bit of work in this world that involves humping heavy stuff despite all the power tools should the author wish to seek some inconveniences.

  3. It’s easy to mock, but as Basil Fawlty pointed out Nazi Germany started with a load of layabouts with too much time on their hands.

    It’s nothing new though, back in the late ’70s when I was in the ATC I remember the officers moaning about the central heating generation. And I’m sure it’s being going on forever.

    #bringbackthemangle

  4. The writer equates convenience alternately with efficiency, idleness and conformity (usually conformity to “non-comformity” bollocks). So he is able to get away with nonsense because they are not the same.

  5. @ AndrewWS
    I should bet that the writer *does* have servants to do all the stuff he doesn’t want to do.

  6. @ tommydog
    My grandparents ditto, and I still recall my maternal grandmother telling me about the introduction of the vacuum cleaner. She had grown up in an era when the middle-class had servants but still did housework (I use some of the recipes created by her mother). So the only explanations for Betty Friedman’s remark are either (i) that she is comparing the “modern American housewife” with *our* generation which had vacuum cleaners and washing machines and steam irons, but were brought up to do housework or (ii) that she doesn’t know what she is talking about or (iii) she is lying to get effect.

  7. I can imagine a Catholic writing the same sort of thing. I don’t think it’s necessarily Protestant work-ethicism, so much as why-are-spiritual-types-like-me-now-irrelevantism.

    Well, a Catholic of the vintage pre-dating the current pontiff, any way.

  8. John 77, well-spotted. There’s something shifty about the whole article. “Convenience” stands in for lots of different things roughly equating to what we usually call progress. He could go further – anaesthetics in surgery, for example. There’s another lazy NYT article today about the UK not really privatising railways because they gave the contracts to foreign government-owned companies. No data, no real point of view, like this one.

  9. John 77 – Make mine “(iii) She is lying to get effect” – a constant from Friedan and the dawn of modern feminism to the #MeToo movement, which no one believed in the days of Chappaquiddick and Lewinski, and no one will believe when Joe Biden makes his move.

    Meanwhile, if even personal decisions to purchase convenience and simplification are corrosive to our character, we finally have a basis for government decisions that we not do so. (Presumably starting with washing machines from South Korea.)

  10. So we’re only just coping, real wages aren’t rising, the inequality gap is getting bigger, we’re working too much AND we’ve got it too easy.

    Buggered if I know how that works.

  11. “Convenience” stands in for lots of different things roughly equating to what we usually call progress. He could go further – anaesthetics in surgery, for example.

    When anaesthetics (ether) were first used to ease the pain of childbirth, they were opposed by some religious types on the grounds of Genesis 3:16 – “in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children”.

  12. Why not admit that you all are getting fat and screen addicted.
    Soon the hardy foreigner will sweep you aside.
    History.

  13. Convenience is relative. For every convenience, at least one challenge emerges. My sat nav is a great convenience, but downloading its updates can be a pain….And so on and on…

  14. @ john malpas
    I *do* admit that, but my wife complains when I am bony.
    The hardy foreigner who is less than half my age may sweep me aside but I shall not make it easy for him.

  15. The convenience of mundane tasks means I have more time to commit to hard work of things *I* want to do. I couldn’t get nearly as much work done if 90% of my life was occupied with just keeping myself alive.

  16. I’m not sure the article is ‘new Calvinism’; it’s just another ‘modern life is rubbish cos neoliberalism’ screed from some dripping-wet pinko oxygen thief.

    There is no virtue in pointless labour and people in both menial and managerial positions can work themselves into an early grave. However idleness is physically and morally damaging – see the dead Rausings or the permanently jobless on your nearest council estate.

  17. My golden years were the Seventies and our motto was, “If it feels good, do it.” The Calvinist ethic (and I have much experience of the South African flavour of that charming ideology) is “If it feels good, don’t do it.’

  18. I once had a heated argument with a bloke who thought the worst thing ever to happen was the DVLA allowing folk to buy car tax online and abolishing the tax disc. Apparently spending an hour queuing up in the Post Office with paper copies of your proof of insurance and MOT to buy an expensive bit of paper is infinitely better than simply doing it online.

    However, what annoys me the most about these “isn’t modern life just awful!” types is that there’s nothing stopping them going off to a shack in the woods to live the simple life, only they’d not get as many column inches for doing it.

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