Technology is not everything

There is no doubt that compared to walking on foot and riding a horse, cars have made travel more efficient than ever. Today, we no longer have to walk through an area at 6 kilometers per hour, nor do we have to ride a carriage on bumpy roads at 15 kilometers per hour. On German highways, we can easily drive to 160 miles (about 257 kilometers per hour). In fact, not every time you drive so smoothly, what do you think the actual average speed of your car will be? Before continuing, please write your estimated data in the margin of this page.

How do you estimate it? Your result is obtained by dividing the annual mileage by the annual driving time, which is also the estimated data that each on-board computer can provide. The data provided by my Land Rover is 50 kilometers per hour. Actually, this estimate is wrong. You must take into account the following factors: working time spent to earn car money; working time spent to pay insurance, maintenance costs, gasoline costs and tickets; and the money needed to earn the first two points, Time spent on the road when driving to work (including traffic jams).

Ivan Ilyich calculated the account for car owners in the United States. The result is that the true average speed of American cars has just reached 6 kilometers per hour, which is the speed of walking. This is the result of calculations in the 1970s, when the population of the United States was 40% less than it is now, and the highway network is as large as it is now. Today, the true average speed of American cars must be much lower than 6 kilometers per hour.

Illich called this effect “anti-productive.” This concept expresses the fact that many technology products seem to save us time and money at first glance, but as long as you calculate all the costs, the effect of this saving will no longer exist.

Can you remember the scene when the digital camera first came out? Digital cameras give us a sense of “liberation”: no more buying expensive film, no longer having to spend time developing photos, saying goodbye to ugly photos that can’t bear looking straight … digital cameras seem to greatly simplify us Life, but when we look back afterwards, we find that this is a typical “anti-productive force” phenomenon. Today you have to face a hill piled with photos and videos. Although 99% of the content is useless, you do n’t have time to clean it up. You can only take it with you through local backup and cloud storage. In addition, you will spend time processing these photos.

Technology is often labeled as “almighty,” but often it has a negative impact on our quality of life. One of the basic principles of a happy life is: If something doesn’t make a real contribution to us, we can save it, especially for technology. Before you reach down to a small device, turn on the light in your head.