Automated Restrooms and the Downfall of Society

Updated on January 24, 2018
Lauren Flauding profile image

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?

Although the preceding movie, which portrays two adults rendered helpless when their escalator breaks down, is a rather facetious example, there is some truth in it. 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, 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, suddenly 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 aa 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.

Which Of These Is Your Favorite Modern Convenience?

See results

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.

Questions & Answers

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      • Lauren Flauding profile imageAUTHOR

        Lauren Flauding 

        2 months ago from Sahuarita, AZ

        Larry, it’s incredible and scary how fast technology is advancing. When I’m a grandmother I’ll probably be telling my grandkids about how I had to drive an excruciating 10 miles to get my food from the store...

      • Larry Fish profile image

        Larry W Fish 

        2 months ago from Raleigh

        An interesting article, Lauren. I think I am probably much older than you. When I was a young boy we had to use the outhouse. I knew when TV was just catching on. Most of the modern conveniences that we have now many people never heard of. The technology is growing faster than most of us older people want to think.

      • Lauren Flauding profile imageAUTHOR

        Lauren Flauding 

        5 months ago from Sahuarita, AZ

        Right? All sorts of mayhem could ensue when we put our choices in the hands of others...

      • tamarawilhite profile image

        Tamara Wilhite 

        5 months ago from Fort Worth, Texas

        The horrors start when hackers start messing with bathroom settings - pay us ransom or none of the toilets in the building will flush.

      • Lauren Flauding profile imageAUTHOR

        Lauren Flauding 

        5 months ago from Sahuarita, AZ

        Well said nestle02!

      • nestle02 profile image

        nestle02 

        5 months ago from Florida, USA

        Great article! There have been a lot of great ideas born from necessity just to be abused because of it's convenience.

      • Lauren Flauding profile imageAUTHOR

        Lauren Flauding 

        5 months ago from Sahuarita, AZ

        Good point Demas. Brain function and the ability to choose remains our safeguard.

      • Perspycacious profile image

        Demas W Jasper 

        5 months ago from Today's America and The World Beyond

        Technology is just what we make of it. We could now spend the whole 24/7 watching not only the current TV shows, but all the shows past and present, as well as almost all of the movies past and present, foreign and domestic. The one saving grace? You still have to read and use your brain to master the full range of opportunities, and know enough to move to the next bathroom sink, if the water doesn't come on when you try to use the sensor! Good thoughts well expressed.

      • Lauren Flauding profile imageAUTHOR

        Lauren Flauding 

        5 months ago from Sahuarita, AZ

        Exactly. I think new tech is great for those who literally can’t function without it, but I think for everyone else they should be wary of how much they depend on it.

      • K S Lane profile image

        K S Lane 

        5 months ago from Melbourne, Australia

        Very true. You mentioned technology designed to help people with disabilities, and obviously those people who've had their lives improved drastically by automation, voice control and motorised wheelchairs would have a very different view of how technology has shaped society than, say, someone who only really uses it as a convenience.

      • Lauren Flauding profile imageAUTHOR

        Lauren Flauding 

        5 months ago from Sahuarita, AZ

        It is a tough question to answer, and I suppose the answer would be different relative to each person, especially if they’re considering the value of technology for themselves or for society as a whole.

      • K S Lane profile image

        K S Lane 

        5 months ago from Melbourne, Australia

        Really interesting read. The human desire to have things as convenient as possible has lead to incredible innovations that have saved millions and potentially billions of lives- but how far is too far? Will the very thing that's driven us to create all of these new technologies end up being our downfall? There's really no easy way to answer these types of questions, but with the rate technology is progressing we're going to have to within the next few decades.

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