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Automated Restrooms and the Downfall of Society

Lauren is a virtual adventurer and late night philosopher, as well as a voracious consumer of technology.


The Way Grandma Tells It

“Children, when I was your age, I had to walk 10 miles to school at 5 o’clock in the morning, in the dark, uphill both ways. And can you imagine? We had to manually flush the toilet!”

Our Increasing Dependence On New Technology

Call me old fashioned, but I kind of miss the good old days when I could walk into a public restroom and have complete control over turning on faucets, drying my hands, and flushing the toilet. Yes, it’s fancy and convenient and supposedly eliminates a percentage of germs, but it also eliminates a percentage of personal responsibility. Now, that may seem a little deep for bathroom technology, but I firmly believe that in any place or situation where things are done for you that you could otherwise do for yourself, your character will diminish.

A long time ago, the majority of us stopped having to produce our own food, build our own houses, and use our own feet for our transportation. Admittedly, this has given us great flexibility and opportunity in our lives. But how much more capable and at peace would you be if you had the basic skills necessary to produce your food, build your shelter, and use your own two feet to move yourself forward in case of an emergency?

There are more and more devices and programs that are conditioning us to do less for ourselves, and we welcome them happily. A few years back, my sister and I rented an economy car for a road trip. The model was very basic, and we found ourselves annoyed that we had to use a crank to open and close the windows instead of the effortless button we had become accustomed to. This was just a silly nuisance, but at what point do we become debilitated when we are without our modern conveniences?

When Technology Backfires

I am a proud owner of a fantastic minivan. I love it dearly. One of my favorite features is the automatic sliding doors. I just have to push a button and, voila, they open. I can open them from several feet away and I can open them when I'm in a rush; they're fantastic. But the other night there was a glitch and we could not get either one of the sliding doors to open. For several minutes, we were stuck outside of our car in the cold with two crying children. Eventually we got the doors to open (manually) and made it safely back to our house. These doors are wildly convenient for the average, on-the-go mom, but I'd take manual doors any day if it meant that I'd never have to worry about being locked out of my car. And imagine what would happen in a self-driving car if the system suddenly went haywire. Additionally, everyone remembers the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 fiasco of 2016. For various users, their high tech, helpful cell phone was catching fire or exploding. By and large, new technology is extremely helpful, but every once in a while it can cause frustrating and potentially dangerous situations.

New technology is extremely helpful, but every once in a while it can cause frustrating and potentially dangerous situations.

New technology is extremely helpful, but every once in a while it can cause frustrating and potentially dangerous situations.

The Future Is Now

"Siri, call my wife!" "Alexa, turn on the lights!"

Having inanimate devices respond to our commands is something dreamed of by many in the past and even just several years ago. The things portrayed in The Jetsons is now our reality. These new gadgets are pleasant and fun, but most of the time the person shouting out commands is fully capable of completing the action themselves, and often with minimal effort. They are helpful, but they also enable a lot of laziness.

Those Who Benefit Most

On the other hand, this same technology offers tremendous opportunities to those who are immobile, vision or hearing impaired, or who may have other disabilities. Increasingly we're seeing brilliant tech aiding those with disabilities, from helping the blind to see to creating prosthetic limbs which can be controlled from a mobile app. This article from BBC business outlines several such inventions. Providing people with health, hope, and independence is truly remarkable, and a great reason to continue pursuing the development of such technology.

The Internet of Things And the Technology Gap

The network of physical devices outfitted with various types of software and technology which are able to connect and exchange data is called the Internet of Things, and it's becoming more and more common in our lives. That multiple devices can be connected to and communicate with each other, as well as with us, is creating a world that is increasingly online. The ease of use and general convenience is astounding, as long as you're connected. This makes people's lives extremely advantageous unless they're off the grid, wary of new technology, or otherwise unable to connect. In this instance, the advance of technology widens the gap between generations, governments, and economic classes. And what happens when the infrastructure fails? When our uber tech savvy society becomes a dystopian novel? Will we be capable enough to pick ourselves up and rebuild? Or will we have conditioned all the skills, abilities, and will power out of our lives?

Advances and implementation of new technology is convenient, fun, and incredibly beneficial to many, but we should be careful that we don't become so dependent on it that we lose essential functions. Should the need arise, we should be able to flush our own toilets. We should not get into the habit of someone or some system getting rid of our crap for us.

To drive the point home, here's a crazy nun with a gourd.

What do you think? Is technology a blessing or a curse?

Let me know in the comments.

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.