Progress isn’t made by early risers

it’s made by lazy men trying to find easier ways to do something. So said the influential writer, thinker and inventor, Robert A. Heinlein, from whom we learned to separate the terms science fiction and speculative fiction. And so we have found innumerable ways to make our lives easier, which is the reason we own cars, washing machines and other devices.

The problem is that these devices are often used against us. Owning a car so you get go for long drives in the country whenever you want sounds great. But the reality of cars is that you spend a large proportion of your life in them, sitting in traffic, breathing in toxic fumes, making your way, isolated in your little box, against the clock, to get to work before it’s too late. The car hasn’t in fact made our lives easier, but it has opened up new possibilities for our masters in terms of what they can demand from us.

Another technological contraption that has become ubiquitous is the television. TVs can be found in almost every bedroom, living room and kitchen across the country. The reason is that people think that TV delivers cheap, quality entertainment, saving them from having to read long books or pay for theater tickets. While there is occasionally quality content on TV, the majority of what we sit through is just straight-up advertising. Sometimes it’s disguised as a mildly entertaining show or film, more often than not we don’t even enjoy it, but we keep watching because we don’t know what else to do or we’re just too lazy to move and hope that by flicking through the channels we’ll find something more bearable. TV actually makes most people more stupid. They stop reading and debating, participating in conversations and learning. It becomes a tool to sell us junk that we don’t need and to convince us of the benevolence of our government and corporate masters and to despise their enemies.

The Luddites out there might realize all of this and conclude that technological advances are bad. They decide that the only way to get around this is to go back to living in caves, eating berries and chasing each other around semi-naked. Some of them might even turn their noses up at some delicious, fresh roadkill as its demise came about as a result of a collision with a technological monstrosity.

Such people are, of course, wrong. Their boomerang turned out to be a straight plank of wood which flew off the cliff and crashed into the sea, sinking to depths where sunlight does not penetrate.