Yesterday someone asked me to look at simplicity vs. environmentalism on a topic other than cell phones. I saw a slide at a presentation that I went to that was a little better than this one. It was a photo of a typical suburban neighborhood and all you could see were garages. you couldn't see the front doors to the homes. The presenter made the comment, "I see where the cars live, but where do the people live?"
Take a moment and imagine the morning routine of a typical American. Get up, eat breakfast, blah, blah blah... Then you go out into your garage, hit the garage door opener, back your car out of the garage and hit the garage door opener again. You drive to work, park in the parking garage or designated parking lot for your business and go into the office. In between your home and office, how many interactions do you have with others? We are going to exclude the guy who you flipped off because he cut you off and the lady that honked at you because you were drifting into her lane. Now think again, how many positive interactions did you have on the way to work... or on the way home? Cars destroy social interactions.
I suppose it's similar to the cell phone, it's not the fault of the inanimate object, it's the fault of the users (us). The point still remains, cell phones tend to promote inconsiderate behavior and cars make it more difficult to interact positively with others on the road. I'll be honest, I haven't had any positive interaction on my 5:30 am commute to work in the snow lately. In the spring and summer, on the other hand, I will frequently cross the path of other cyclists and talk with them for quite some time. That's just a part of commuting by bike, it promotes interaction and camaraderie with other cyclists. Unless you cross paths with a "roadie" who will most likely pass you going as fast as he can without acknowledging your existence to prove that he is somehow superior to you.
Back in the day homes had a front door that people used and that was located front and center on the house. There was usually a patio or similar sitting area near the front door where people would relax in the evenings. Oddly enough people would talk to their neighbors and otherwise interact with one another. Nowadays the front porch has virtually disappeared, but the back yard keeps getting bigger, as does the fence that surrounds it. We want our privacy. I suppose privacy isn't bad, but when it is at the expense of relationships with those around us, I don't think it's positive.
I've ventured a ways from the auto v. bike comparison, but there is so much that goes with that. Streets used to have sidewalks because people walked on them. Now people drive so sidewalks lost popularity. With the increased use of the auto, people wanted a garage in which they could park it and since they were already in the garage, why would they leave the garage to go in the front door of the house. We have therefore decreased informal interactions with those around us. And what has this provided us? We spend more time in a car (to get to work so we can afford the house with a big garage), we have more time to watch television and we are overall less happy then we used to be.
I do care about the environment, but what I am more interested in is happiness. Call me greedy, but I just want to be happy and I am generally happier when those around me are happy. Happiness doesn't come with more stuff and more free time to sit in front of a TV and watch other peoples' reality. Happiness comes from human interaction. more on the TV tomorrow.