Sunday, February 19, 2012

Jevons paradox applied to leisure time

Weed by Bassett Creek pond
Isn't it odd that with all of our time saving devises we seemed to be the most rushed people ever?  Wikipedia states that Jevons paradox proposes that the technological progress that increases the efficiency with with a resource is used tends to increase (rather than decrease) the rate of consumption of that resource. It occurs to me an example of the Jevons paradox is how technology has increased our leisure time, yet seemingly we are living a less leisurely lifestyle than ever before.  Think of all the time saving innovations we have had over the past couple hundred years; telephones, automobiles, washing machines, airline travel, computers, microwave ovens, email and twitter.  Yet, who is more rushed and harried, people living in this century or those a couple of centuries back?  I can't imagine that riding a horse and buggy would have been nearly the same experience as cruising down a busy highway with a bluetooth phone in ear trying to get some work done or keep up with family members. How much different it is sitting down together as a family conversing over a home cooked meal versus popping in a microwave dinner in the microwave for oneself, while watching the news on television and texting a friend.

There is truth in that old saying,"the hurrier I go, the behinder I get". We're going mighty fast these days, and I don't think it is helping us to live a fuller, more satisfying life.  Paradoxically with all of our time saving devises we've become more like human doings and less like human beings.

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