So, we’ve all seen a microwave. Many I have owned (or gazed upon) have been outfitted with a variety of helpful buttons to lessen the stress of figuring out the correlation between the food you want to reheat and the time it will take to do so. If you find it difficult to understand the concepts of “pizza” or “popcorn” spelled out with actual letters, these presets sometimes offer an alternative: simple renderings of the foods they’re meant to represent.
After noting how adorable they are, my main reaction is a kind of mental sneering, quickly followed by eating the pizza that had been rotating inside said microwave forcing me to stare at the goddamn buttons impatiently. If you can’t figure out how long it will take to reheat a slice of pizza or pop a bag of corn, then you are lost in some kind of brain wilderness I don’t have the directions to (just kidding, I live there). There aren’t that many of us that should have trouble calculating such things; that’s not the problem. The problem is that in a deliberate ploy to move microwaves, companies correctly assumed that customers desire an all encompassing ease-of-use. So here you go, put your delicious pizza in this box that will make cold food warm at the touch of a button, food that has been kept cold and free of bacteria and other such unseemly nasties in a refrigerator, food that has probably been prepared for you by others, and all you had to do was lift a tiny electronic box that contains nearly the entirety of the world and all the information it has taken thousands of years to obtain to your ear and dial a number. Blammo—pizza at your doorstep.
You can’t blame captains of industry for finding new ways to make a buck. Don’t get me wrong, I love convenience. Use it all the time. It’s awesome. Pizza at my doorstep is AWESOME.
Yet every time I’m at a Chipotle, perusing the invitingly displayed meats, cheeses, and condiments, I marvel that our ancestors had to get out of their cozy caves if they were feeling peckish. Picture that scenario the next time you’re deep in a couch coma, fully invested in the garbage television of your choice, suddenly overcome by a craving—nay, a need—for fake Mexican. Not only would Caveperson You be unable to call and be presented with such delicious goods in short order, but I’m pretty sure the very concept of a burrito would be impossible to execute. You would have to go outside, risk your literal life to slay an edible beast, skin it, roast it (if Caveperson You is even aware of fire, this could feasibly be pre-Prometheus times), chop it up with rudimentary tools, and forget about guacamole.
As I write this, I am enraged that Chipotle doesn’t even deliver.
What’s more, there are televisions at gas pumps. It takes me less than a minute to pump gas. Can’t I just stare off into space and enjoy the deliciously toxic perfume of petroleum? I guess not. I’ll just look at my phone with my left hand instead. I mention this because holding my phone is the only thing I can do with my non-dominant hand. Out of all the things I could’ve cared enough to train it to do—pick my nose, open a slick candy bar wrapper, write—flawlessly punching in the passcode and subsequently using my smartphone without much difficulty is the only thing this otherwise useless appendage can do.
Even as I’m getting worked up thinking about how lazy and dumb technology makes us, every point I come up with is met with a counterargument of my own making. As I type on a keyboard, fueled by coffee brewed in a Keurig (the absolute laziest way to acquire coffee), I imagine the words simply evaporating every time I consult an online thesaurus. If I tried to write this out, I’d be like Billy Madison in front of a chalkboard.
And now that I’ve come to realize my intended chastising of these modern times has turned into a dripping, needy love letter, I’ll get to my original point: we should start slowly, slyly making things more difficult for humans. It’s the only way to avoid a total Idiocracy situation. Throw some Roman numerals on a microwave. Force drivers to gauge on their own when it’s safe to drive at (low-risk) stoplights. Remove the warning labels from bleach. Bag your own fucking groceries. I humbly submit this proposal to restore the human race back to its original intelligence level by small degrees, while keeping all social advancement and necessary conveniences.
I like voting.
I hate third grade and I hate all of you,