How productivity, efficiency and strict ideas of what is ‘good’ are killing us
‘All interactions that affect stability and order in the whirling flux of change are rhythms. There is ebb and flow, systole and di-astole: ordered change. The latter moves within bounds. To overpass the limits that are set is destruction and death, out of which, however, new rhythms are built up. The proportionate interception of changes establishes an order that is spatially, not merely temporally patterned: like the waves of the sea, the ripples of sand where waves have flowed back and forth, the fleecy and the black-bottomed cloud. Contrast of lack and fullness, of struggle and achievement, of adjustment after consummated irregularity, form the drama in which action, feeling, and meaning are one. The outcome is balance and counterbalance. These are not static nor me-chanical. They express power that is intense because measured through overcoming resistance. Environing objects avail and counteravail.
There are two sorts of possible worlds in which esthetic experience would not occur. In a world of mere flux, change would not be cumulative; it would not move toward a close. Stability and rest would have no being. Equally is it true, however, that a world that is finished, ended, would have no traits of suspense and crisis, and would offer no opportunity for resolution. Where everything is already complete, there is no fulfilment.’ 
- John Dewey
There would be no life.
Introduction? On Covenience
When we are at a party, and we’re not having fun, we might not even particularly like the people there, maybe the music is not quite our style or for some reason we’re not feeling very comfortable in our body, staying there will feel like it is requiring a great effort. If we were at a different party where the music is great, all of the people we enjoy being around are present and we’re in a jolly mood, we will probably spend more energy than in the other scenario, we will talk more, move more and probably even spend more money and time there, but it wont feel like an effort because it will feed us back simultaneously, it will be what is called an autotelic experience. The way we are spending our energy will be what keeps us going, our inner fire will be fed through the same processes by which it is consumed.
Change and movement require energy, but unless it is perceived as an unpleasant experience, it wouldn’t necessarily be energy exclusively leaving us. The more choices we have as to how we spend our time and energy, the more opportunities we have to make a distinction between the activities we like and the ones that we would prefer not to do. In the process of specialisation of tasks and the furthering of social and professional mobility, in combination with creativity that has been leading to technological development and a pinch of human laziness, we’ve created a global scenario in which many of us have ended up in situations in which we have had the opportunity to figure out new ways to decrease the effort and complexity required to fulfil certain tasks. 
The simpler and smoother we experienced the fulfilment of certain tasks, the more convenient it felt, and it might have also given us more time and energy to spend on some other more pleasurable or important things.
We’ve been finding more and more convenient ways to bridge the distance between our desires and their fulfillments, and in most cases the understanding of ‘convenience’ has meant that less was required from us, less time, less energy, less movement, less labour, less resources, etc. 
If we fast forward this process and see how it has taken shape today, our fingers, the internet and our personal connectivity devices are all we seem to need to get what we need from life. This is an oversimplification but it gives a clear vision of the point I am trying to make. If we desired to not move ever again, in theory, we could. I am sure with the right amount of money we could get someone to design and deliver for us a setup that is a chair, a bed and a toilet, and maybe it could even be elegant enough to leave us some dignity while using it.
In our pursuit of convenience, we’ve designed objects and cities that could better bridge those in power with their desires in the fastest way. Our needs have evolved and changed, but the way we’ve been deciding to build our environments have been slowly following, and in turn, perpetuating them. 
What we have also done, to a more or less conscious degree, is change our environment so that it accommodates our human needs and our human needs only.
Ignorant Egology
Estimates vary, but when considering land used for human purposes beyond just urban areas, including agriculture, forestry, and other human activities, the figure is significantly high. Roughly 40-50% of Earth's ice-free land surface is utilised for agriculture, pastures, and forestry combined. This land is allocated for food production, livestock grazing, timber harvesting, and other human-related uses, making it a substantial portion of the habitable land on Earth. 
Instead of continuing to find ways to live with and adapt to nature, we’ve “overcome” the effects of seasons, climate and other geographical “inconveniences”. We edifice the world thinking we should protect ourselves from the natural environments, instead of using and adapting to them. We’ve built an environment that allows us to ignore nature, we can afford to disregard seasons, we can ‘enjoy’ an indoors that can sustain the same temperature throughout the year. One can get avocados in Finland any time of the year, which might seem convenient but its implications are deeply problematic.
The way we build and live has given rise to a false sense of superiority, an illusion of mastery over nature's forces. We only focus on balance or convenience for us humans as if we existed in an ecosystem of our own, as if the environments we're building were set apart of the rest of the environments and the rest of the world, as if we could dictate our rhythms and design them independently of the rhythms of nature. This is not only a lie, but for a long time has been one of the most promoted human denials. Most of our global economy couldn’t go about the way that it has been going if we fundamentally changed this belief and repositioned ourselves within and not above the greater ecological landscape.
The consequential disruptions and disharmonies that our growth oriented economical practices have brought about are now so evident that they cant anymore be ignored or hidden from the greater public, 
In our pursuit of convenience we wrongly think we’ve mastered nature's challenges, as if we could control the present and the future. We've constructed a facade of independence, believing we can dictate and manipulate our environments to suit our desires, and we want it all, all of the time. 
We seem to still intend to navigate the world trying to build our infrastructures in a way that is most convenient for us, as if this human centred vision aligned with the reality of the world, as if our ideas of self importance were not invented by us, as if mother earth was supposed to care more about us than about other beings, as if we could adapt the timings of the world to our timeless resource hungry lifestyle, as if time efficiency meant something to the seasons, as if natural processes were linear instead of cyclical because that's how we're forcing them to be.
This human centred vision does not only have environmental costs. When we, as the fleshly animals that we are, try to live a life that keeps up with the god-like desires that we think we can afford to have, as with many mythological stories, the fulfilling of our wishes comes with a far greater price to pay. Even though this is clearly evident and more and more of us are actively standing up and voicing our concerns and disagreements with this current practice, the way our infrastructure is built, it is almost impossible to completely detach ourselves from all the practices that are creating more harm than good. If we decided to collectively abandon our environments, we would occupy what little land is left, and most of us would probably not know how to survive differently than how we’re currently doing.
When we want something and we get it, most often than not we’re completely unaware, theoretically and/or practically, on how this fulfillment of our desire came to be. I eat and wear clothes every day, but I don’t really theoretically and tacitly know what it takes for all my food to grow, how to weave fabrics from a cotton plant, and I surely have no real idea of how electricity comes to the computer that I am using to type this. 

Human-centered vision
Measuring progress is a multifaceted task and it varies across disciplines and contexts, but that is always exclusively done from the human perspective. It is usually understood as a concept we've developed to describe forward movement or improvement in various aspects of life, and still as a subjective idea it is specified and futher shaped by cultural, societal, and individual perspectives. It has also evolved over time and varies across different societies and historical periods. What might be considered progress in one context might not hold the same significance in another. For example, advancements in technology might be seen as progress in a highly industrialized society, whereas preserving traditional practices could be seen as progress in a community valuing cultural heritage.​​​​​​​
This human-made concept of progress is influenced by our values, beliefs, and goals, meaning it is as all other human fictions, always dependent on context. It reflects our aspirations for improvement, whether in economic development, scientific knowledge, social equality, environmental sustainability, or other domains. However, it's crucial to recognize that progress isn't always linear or universally beneficial; it can have both positive and negative consequences.
When we assume that nature must care for humans, do we understand that it must do so above or at the expense of other species. We are also implying that ‘nature’ or ‘fate’ should know what we consider well being, happiness and progress at all times so that it can most accurately cater to our desires. Having shaped a very relevant amount of habitable land to our human desires, we might think that we have reasons to believe that if not nature, at least our human designed environment does care about our ever changing wants and needs. If we generally think that our human lives are the best and most valuable things in the world, then an environment that cares for human lifes above all will foster as many humans lives for as long and as comfortably as possible.
The reality is that as much as we wish for an independent and humanly controlled material environment, we live on a planet that does not particularly care for us nor should it. Species rise and fall, ecosystems change, and life continues its cycle. While the individual experiences of humans—births, deaths, hunger, abundance—hold immense significance on a personal and societal level, in the broader context of the planet's systems, these human-specific measurements don’t matter. 
Human morality as one of the metrics for progress?
Why when we could just use the convenience of rich people?
We are a part of nature, and human activities collectively have far-reaching consequences for the planet's ecosystems and the balance of its processes, however, the distinctions between natural and man made processes make less sense when we think of the degree of ‘naturality’ of animal made structures or environmental changes like those of beavers or the impact of elephants in water rerouting.
The key difference between animals and humans is our unique ability to discern and comprehend the ramifications of our actions once they have happened. We are the only ones who can distinguish and be aware that some of our destructive actions are unnecessary and/or simply cruel, and hence to know that if we had different priorities and made different choices accordingly, the world could look completely different. ​​​​​​​
Movement and change are constants, but the directions in which we aim to move determine our future contexts and with it our future possibilities of further movement and change. As a society, we embody a set of values and priorities that, whether explicitly discussed or not, dictaminate the direction of our actions. Living in a system that has been self solidifying for as long as our imperial capitalism has been, most of our environments are already very limiting, and our contexts don't allow and rather prevent the challenging of the ideas that this system is always working to uphold.
One of these ideas in which the system relies to give us the perception that it is working and propelling us ‘forward’ (as if without it we could never reach the future or time wasn’t working before it appeared) is progress. This concept, just as many others, has been so indiscriminately used that now we seem to think that we agree and be clear on what it means, when in reality it is so multifaceted and so all encompassing that it means, at least to me, virtually nothing.
Today, the definition of progress seems to be multifaceted. It encompasses economic growth, technological advancements, environmental sustainability, social equity, and cultural diversity, while it ignores spiritual, emotional or aesthetic health, between many others.
There's a growing emphasis on holistic progress that balances economic development with social and environmental well-being, but the definitions and measurements used for this are inadequate, not developed or disregarded. 
All this is to say that what we value and our definition of progress are equally determinant into the ‘progress’ made as the actions taken or the changes made to achieve it.
Hence, when we either think that we’re making progress or that we’re stagnant, those are ideas tied to what we’re measuring and the comparative reference points we’re using, to an equal or greater degree than movement or change in any direction. 
Would it be more positive or more ‘progress providing’ for the planet earth if we could erase all traces of human activities from it? Again questions and answers around the degree of progress depend on what progress means for us.
The price of immediacy
It seems that the shortening of the time between desiring and the fulfilment of said desires has become one of our main measurement units for progress. Whose desires and at what cost (typically white western men in power, whose desires being fulfilled generally comes at the cost of human and natural exploitation) are also very signifying points that are disregarded within the measurement of progress, but are matters of high importance and that if were also taken into account, we would see clearly that our progress is taking us rather backwards.
Our perception of effort has changed and now we could make a clear distinction between:
the effort that we put into the objects of our love (ourselves, our self fulfilment, enjoyment and improvement, the people we love and care about) which we experience often times with a sense of pleasure and from which resolutions are visible and a very short or few steps away from the direct impact of our actions, 
and the different type of effort that is typically required from us by externalities that give little importance to our understanding of the benefits of, or agreement with our participation in said effort requiring processes, and the results of which we usually are disconnected from. Not to generalize that all externally demanded efforts lack personal agreement or understanding of benefits. Sometimes, external efforts align with personal values or broader societal benefits, though conflicts can arise when such alignment is absent.
We could also make a disctiction between the efforts from which we can experience the fruits of, even if disseminated through a larger number of people and smaller evidences, and the efforts that don’t have an end in sight. In the past when most of our economy was based on material reality either through non perishable objects or perishable goods generally for consumptions, participating in the economy creating or harvesting something had a clear point of completion. The “you can always do more” mentality came later, and more than encouraging is often overwhelming and paralysing to imagine oneself to continue to pour energy into something that simply absorbs it like a black hole.
Historically, one’s efforts impacted directly them and the community around them. Taxation, even if it ever was truly consensual, meant that we weren’t anymore in full control of the uses of the fruits of our efforts (even if they were democratically agreed upon, which also hasn’t been generally the case). When someone else is in control of something as personal as the fruit of our labour greatly impacts our sensation of control over our own life, something humanity has grown to be greatly attached to.
I would dare to pose that the addition of these phenomena turned most of the signification we give to effort into something increasingly seen as unpleasant, and that should be avoided in all possible ways, although this wasn’t a universally homogeneous process, it varied across cultures, historical periods, and social strata.
If we combine this process with another phenomena developing simultaneously in western societies, which was the process of the forming and spreading of strict categories and ideas of right and wrong, the interiorisation and application of totalitarian thinking, or the spread of the accuracy needed in sciences onto all other areas of life and society, this ended up creating a rejection of mistakes, of being ‘on the wrong side’.
These processes left us in a society in which, if we can opt out of making tedious efforts we do and, where we would ideally we ‘get things right’ at the first attempt. This thinking was strengthened by the spread of digital technologies in society, and in return fed this immediacy-desiring social machine.
We want our actions to be straightforward and direct so as to reduce to the minimum possible the time and space between our desire and its fulfilment. Of course, as with everything, we put our collective intelligence to use mostly to shorten the time of desire fulfilment of those in power, consequently benefitting the “higher classes” of society, and which has permeated in some aspects to middle and lower classes as well, specifically the fulfilment of those desires that appear as if they could be covered through our smartphones.
We all hopefully know from some personal experience that when we put effort into something that we decisively and truly desire to accomplish and that has no shortcuts we can take, we’ve found some enjoyment in the process, building muscle memory, learning, developing a moral compass, overcoming grief or loss or building trust have no shortcut, and they bring many byproducts with them that can be both positive and negative, but that in any case make our lives richer.
When the space between desire and its fulfilment is zero, there’s no chance for byproducts, no surplus on the activities. Yes it might leave us more time to do other things, but are we truly enjoying the other things that we are doing? Is this time “investment” paying off?​​​​​​​
Linear vs. Expansive growth
Our global economy and economists have noticed this trend and further encouraged it, so that they can effortlessly profit by providing us a low effort lifestyle, given we are their customers, and exclusively then. In wealthier countries we can avoid making efforts aimed to sustain our lives because almost everything is provided for us, so we put our energies into designing and creating things and experiences that will enrich our lives since that isn’t organically happening in our purpose oriented activities. This opened the door in 1998 to the concept of experience economy and ever since has introduced the staging of memorable experiences as consumable goods in the pool of economic activities. Now processes are some times the goal, the difference is that instead of being something unavoidable that might bring unintended consequences, positive or negative but that would either way add substance to life, now in so-called-developed countries we approach process experiences with the (high) expectations of them adding only positive and significant emotions and feelings.
Staged experiences also place us in a passive position, the emotions that we’re meant to have have been previously thought of and the factors that influence them have been carefully selected. There’s always room for surprise, but since surprise might also bring some undesired emotions, control tries to overpower the space for surprise as much as possible.
So when the activities that we engage with are chosen as goods for consumption and the requirement for our intentionality, participation, attention and even embodiment drops, so does the maximum degree to which we can grow with and through the experience. Digitalisation and the coming mass acquisition of virtual reality devices (if nothing happens or we don’t choose to prevent it) will be furthering the impression that curated, designed and manufactured experiences can fully soothe our desire for a rich life. When the general public is trapped in a routinary job (some other would call them ‘essential workers’ or ‘digital professionals’), in a mostly predictable city (some others would call it efficient, stable or reliable), to have virtual or passive experiences, and the bar for how exciting or surprising life or events can be drops, to live a life where all experiences are chosen by or for you, and your emotional response is guided towards specifically intended places, this impression of living a full and rich life only through the so called experience economy might be convincing enough to prevent us from desiring or striving for something else.
When rich and privileged people -much like the Buddha when he was a prince living in his castle- can opt to expose themselves exclusively to situations that would foster mostly or only their prefered sensations, would they? - Buddha didn’t want to, but as famous as he’s become since, it seems like his is an exceptional story and not the rule.
So the question that follows is: is convenience and the power of choosing so specifically really all that positive? Well, it depends how we define what positivity means and what we’re trying to measure with it.
My focus lies mostly on the type of growth that happens on a personal level when we can plan ahead and select the kind of feelings we want of life, taking into account that we will never free ourselves from unintended consequences. Our forced desire for logic promoted mostly by western figures and our economy oriented definitions and understanding of growth further encourage a mode of interacting with life and planning our moves in a linear fashion. Digitalisation, the current expansion of ai and our intention of choosing can give us a compelling illusion that we can indeed just keep getting more and better of whatever it is we already know we like.
This reduces the directions of our growth, and when this is reduced to only one direction, we end up with a line.
When the power of choosing backfires
If in privileged societies our path is linear and we’re continously propelled from one type of experience onto a more intense one of a similar type, also of our pleasure (and still at the cost of other humans, living beings or the degradation of planetary environments), we might very well be trapped in a convenience loop.
Luckily, not everyone is in this position, and people who are free from a convenience-based lifestyle, but who are trying to be captured by the system to either work for it or turn into reliable consumers, know that constant change isn’t only as real as life, it is also necessary and needs to be encouraged. 
To vouch for change and to change the system is becoming increasingly hard, and one of the causes for this might be that the variety of actions we previously had to steer societies has been reduced.
To change things before we had many different options, and it required creativity and openness to divert from an oppressive sameness. We didn’t only vote, or head collectively to the streets to protest or show how big in number a desire for a specific change is; we decapitated kings, we threw tons of tea into the sea, or were extremely creative in guerrilla tactics that are deemed as illegal, ineffective or not propper of ‘developed’ societies nowadays, but that are really not possible because of the over militarisation of police forces, that are now equipped in such a way that it would be impossible for the masses to kill a king, even if that was the most logical step to be taken and this was agreed upon every single member of said society. Police has the technological means to prevent revolts with a significantly less amount of effort than before, and would probably rather kill enough people to instigate enough fear to stop the killing of one ‘more important’ person, even if that meant the (temporal) liberation of a whole country.
It might have seemed very convenient that the group of society that is meant to protect citizens takes up a large portion of our collective efforts in investment to develop their capabilities, it might have seemed more convenient than everyone putting some effort into caring for or protecting their people in their closest geographical proximity, but is it convenient to have people enforcing outdated laws armet to the teeth and preventing changes that are being asked by a number of people decidedly enough that they self-organise and go to the streets to foster these changes?
It is comparatively exceedingly easier to develop something than to foresee all the consequences it will bring and to then take responsibility of them. We’ve been leaping ‘forward’ linearly through technological advancement and economic encouragement following the directions set by unquestioned precedents and now we find ourselves where we are, having to face not only a climate crisis, but the climate inaction because of industries not wanting to change the direction of their practices, being acutely aware of the harms of systemic racism and seeing institutions discreetly continue with their business as usual because of how favourable it is for the small percentage of people who continuously benefit from it; and we also see how there’s still a big social pressure to address issues related to sexism, ableism or transphobia that seem to take equal steps forward as backwards because of the polarised opinions instigated by AI and social media.
There’s a huge amount of effort put into having much of the global population belief that we are living in a democracy, where the words representative and parliamentary are deemed as so inconsequential that we could in fact skip them. Are we all really participating in the choosing of how our humanity, or at least our nation states, define and strive for whatever it seems that we’ve secretly defined as progress?
It looks like we all enjoy convenience, being completely unaware of what our lives could be like without it. Yes, I enjoy having a laundry machine and not having to go out to the cold and freeze my knuckles to have clean clothes, but maybe spending 30 minutes outside every couple of days to wash my clothes while I have time to think, perhaps talk to people living around me could bring some unforeseen benefits to my life as well. Now though, given I have enough money for it, I could arrange for someone to come and pick up my dirty clothes, wash them, iron them and place them neatly in my wardrobe for me, all of that without ever having to leave my bed.
When everything is straightforward, if we want something very specific, and the time and effort spent on search and acquisition is virtually close to zero, there’s no space for surprises or unexpected encounters or events. No collateral phenomena, no chance for experimentation in the process, if we focus on shortening the bridge between identifying our desires and their fulfilment, where do we leave play?
Other evidence of our God complex
Time-space compression
When we live inside this speed loop, our thinking processes are also forced to keep up with the fast speed. Time-space compression often corresponds with an increased pace of life and decision-making, and the activities that we needn’t do fast, we must do efficiently. Ideally we rest all the hours that we’ve programmed to sleep, and we enjoy the time we spend with our friends and family from the first minute of our hangout, because there’s something coming after in our agendas filled with very important events.
Luckily this isn’t so in many parts of the world, there are many regions that are known for their relaxed pace of life. Not coincidentally these are frequent holiday choices, this seems to be the rhythm we tend to choose in our ‘designated happy and freely chosen personal time’. We leave space to examine how we feel and honour not only what we choose, but the possibility to change or revert our choices.
In faster pathed environments, we usually have more range of choices as well, from which we have to choose faster. Given everything that is involved in decision making processes, are we standing in the assumption that we can go through all these steps (considering not only the extremely high number of options available, but also alternatives that we couldn't initially be aware of, evaluating all of them and their consequences, making and implementing the decision) in such an accelerated speed, and still, as a society, be making the ‘best’ or more ‘progressive’ choices? Doesn’t this sound even slightly presumptuous?
Are we alternatively assuming that most choices made in ‘progressive’ environments are inherently continuing to bring progress just because they are a reinforcing echo of choices we’ve made in the past that were eventually categorised as progressive by the people who were then in positions of categorising what is or isn’t progress?
I am about to make a point in which I am consciously excluding immoral practices forcing some communities to live in conditions of exploitation, abuse or even slavery, and I am not doing so because it is disconnected but because these situations are not inherent to the smaller economical practices I will use in the example, but are rather the result of their interactions with ‘stronger’ economies that need them to sustain themselves and the ressource hungry lifestyle of their people.
Smaller economies might not bring the people living in these contexts the same overwhelming amount of options we have when we live in ‘more advanced’ and privileged ones, and the fulfilling of the desires of the people living in these communities is generally a lengthier process than in privileged ones, that probably require a lot more of their participation, longer waiting and commuting times, and more energy investment in general.
My point is that (again excluding communities suffering from direct exploitation) these groups of people take longer in the decision making and their implementation process, which might not always be a negative thing. Putting effort, work and energy into something, asking and maybe receiving help from members of your community, or even strangers, having to be outside of our comfort zone (not in danger or under overwhelming pressure) and generally taking the time to choose and go through the process of choosing and ideally accomplishing our goals, or not, sparks many other phenomena that adds texture to the journey, that is ultimately life. 
We on the other hand, who live within the speed of progress, who are victims of time-space compression, might be living in an ever shrinking reality that will at some point stop allowing for any kind of movement, as if we were sculptures of ourselves, as if that was living.
If we continue to chase our own egos, our only path forward will eventually be to implode and die.

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