Has technology made the crappy tasks better, or even enjoyable?

iphonedrawI find that I can’t clean my own home without my ipod or something playing from iTunes.  It’s not always music either, and I’m listing to podcasts, order audiobooks and downloadable versions of radio shows.  Because the technology has made is so easy, remedy I’m consuming more media more often. Most of all I’m consuming it at times when I’m doing other less enjoyable things.  Things like cleaning, mowing, or even just sitting in traffic.

Let’s step in to my time machine here and visit my ghosts of crappy jobs past.  One of the worst jobs I had was cleaning a grocery store at night.  First the bakery and then the butcher area.  The bakery wasn’t so bad, but it was hours of scrubbing the same large cooking sheet over and over again, in lots of nasty chemicals.  The butcher room, was like cleaning up after the most violent first person shooter you’ve ever played. Meaty carnage was always everywhere.  The belt saw had a tendency to throw little tiny pieces of meat all over the place and coat the walls and floor. Okay, maybe that’s too much detail here.  The point is that I would have killed myself if I didn’t have tapes of Jimi Hendrix on my Sony Sport Walkman.  It was the big yellow one with the airtight seal.  I had that thing for ages and it traveled all over the place with me.

Sure, audio cassette tape was just about the worst medium there has been for music, but it was the best I had at the time.  I had boxes of homemade mix tapes and purchased tapes.  It was an art form to make the mix tape back then,  I had one of those boom boxes with the dual cassette bays.  I would search around the source tape for the song and then un-pause the carefully paused to record blank tape.  Mistakes would happen all the time and you would have to rewind or fast forward to get to the right spot.  With some of my favorite tapes of the time, like Synchronicity by the Police, I was able to visual find any song by how much tape was on either side of the spool.  You could look in there and next to the markers in the little window, find just the right spot quickly. The worst thing that could happen was when the tape would run out when you knew that last song would have been just an amazing way to end the tape side.  It was tedious at times, but I always put my heart in to it.  Getting it just right meant so much.  There was an art form to filling that amount of time per side just right.

It wasn’t about the tape cassette or the process of making my mix tapes, it was always about the music.  I made those tapes to have the music with me, for those bus rides, long family road trips, train rides, reading or giving away to friends.

Getting back to my original point, today it’s so much easier to bring a vast library of content with you in your pocket.  Gone are the days of having to worry about how much time I have to fill.  Side A and Side B don’t exist anymore.  In my opinion this is a good thing, because it removes the limits of the medium.

The dishwashers, janitors, and butcher room cleaners can escape from the mediocracy of their jobs and bring their own enjoyment.  They can listen to the Audible version of Pride and Prejudice and catching up on the classics.  Instead they could be listening to the Science Friday podcast and learning about the weeks latest news in science.  Maybe, they just want to listen to Slayer, because that’s what they need then.  It doesn’t matter, the point is that inside most everyones pocket these days is a device that can do this.  MP3 players are cheaper and cheaper ever day.  Most cell phones support audio playback.

I’ve just been looking at one aspect of all of this too, just the audio side.  It goes to reason that being more closely connected to your friends and family through devices like the iphone, or any cell phone for that matter, makes the hard difficult times easier to get through.  Nothing is better then getting a text message from a friend, while slogging through some gutter cleaning. It’s so much easier to stay connected. You can tweet out a quick message without a boss noticing and organize a meet up with your friends in much less time.

Eventually, I hope we all have robots to do the work that people don’t want to.  That way, we can all just go back to enjoying life and having more leisure time.   Of course that’s another story for another time.

Pardon me, I’m just going to slip these headphones on for moment while I go take care of that dirty floor.