Technology – saving time or consuming time?

Statistically for every hour technology saves you, it consumes two more. This popped into my inbox recently and got me thinking. Sadly, the claim wasn’t referenced so I’ve no idea what they are basing the assertion on. It does explain though why my communications workshop, delivered over two days in situ, has stretched to three online. Working online takes time. I read in The Independent that technology is saving me two weeks a year, assuming for the sake of argument that I am one of the Britons surveyed.

The survey of 2,000 adults found that technology like self-service checkouts, internet shopping or banking and mobile traffic updates were saving the average Briton around six-and-a-half hours each week.

mmmm…my last interaction with a self-service checkout ended up with my needing the help of no fewer than three assistants and took five times longer than I would have taken had I gone through a regular checkout. The bag of flour I bought burst. I replaced it. But I didn’t swap like for like as I’d bought the wrong kind to begin with (my bad). I ended up not buying it but I’d been charged for it. I was prepared to walk away from the 230 forints but no… that wasn’t going to happen. There was also an issue with spring onions. Sold by the bunch, why would I need to weigh them? But I checked the machine for a code, just in case. I keyed in one bunch – it gave me a code – but it was the wrong code. Cue third assistant. And lest you think that I’m fumbling with the language, these scales operate with pictures and spring onions, green onions, or scallions, call them what you will – they all look the same.

I went to buy a book, online, from a retailer in New Zealand. I checked the tracked postage option. The price almost doubled. And when I went to check out, it levied an additional postage charge. I emailed the company and two days later received a reply. Their bad. So sorry. Had I been in the bookshop, that wouldn’t have happened.

And don’t start me on banking. The preparation for an online transaction takes nearly as long as the transaction itself. Do I have my codes? Do I have to call first to adjust the limit because the transaction I want to make exceeds it? Do I have to set up a payee for a first-time payment? And is my phone charged so that I’ll get the code when it comes? Deliver me!

I read another piece on the Medical Futurist about what time self-driving cars will save.

Did you know that American drivers spend an average of more than 17,600 minutes behind the wheel each year? It is 48 minutes per day according to the outcome of a 2016 survey from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. As Jurek Grabowski, research director for the foundation emphasized, the amount of time the average driver spends behind the wheel each year is equivalent to seven 40-hour weeks at the office. Moreover, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, there were a little over 139 million workers commuting 26 minutes each way to work on average every workday in 2014! That’s already 52 minutes per workday!

Assuming that I am one of those American commuters and given what our post-COVID working world could well look like, will there even be such a thing as a daily commute? With more and more people working from home, will cars remain parked in driveways? Will COVID make us rethink the direction technology is taking?

But back to the original assertion: Statistically for every hour technology saves you, it consumes two more. This isn’t talking about saving time, it’s talking about consuming time. And that I can see. Going online is like entering some sort of vortex where time disappears. A simple search to answer one question turns into a rabbit hole, a warren of tunnels each one taking me somewhere else until hours later, I’m left wondering where my morning has gone.

According to Statistica

As of 2019, the average daily social media usage of internet users worldwide amounted to 144 minutes per day, up from 142 minutes in the previous year. Currently, the country with the most time spent on social media per day is the Philippines, with online users spending an average of three hours and 53 minutes on social media each day. In comparison, the daily time spent with social media in the U.S. was just two hours and three minutes.

Arguably, some might say that this time is dead time anyway – time on a bus or in a doctor’s waiting room or in a queue. It’s not consuming time, it’s putting time consumed by waiting to better use. And I get that, I do. But who’s going anywhere these days?

Statistically for every hour technology saves you, it consumes two more. I’m still curious. If anyone has read anything that might shed more light on this assertion, let me know.


4 Responses

  1. Hmmm… not convinced! Does ‘technology’ mean only electronics and computer-based systems? Or do we include electric lighting and the wheel? Or fire, and heating? All in all, I prefer to be living in the here and now, as opposed to almost any other time in history.

  2. Funny how I equate technology with all things internet-related… not electricity, or cars, or such things, even though of course, they are technology, too. I seem to have narrowed my view of it to artificial intelligence, Internet of Things, and new stuff… the old new stuff is all good 🙂

  3. Oh Mary, I’m so glad to hear your self-help technology experiences as I have experienced the exact same things. And I also consider technology as only internet related, definitely not electricity since it’s been around my entire lifetime. But the technology to turn it off and on with an app IS technology. Anyway, love your perspective on things and your blog!

    1. Lovely to hear from you Shelly – am steeling myself to buy a new phone and trying to get my head around the technology shift that will come with it… oh the challenges…

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