Laziness moves the world

Homer Simpson, the best example of laziness

According to dictionaries, laziness is the lack of determination in performing actions acknowledged as relevant. Christianity put Sloth among the Seven Deadly Sins, but comparing that to laziness is misleading, such as any juxtaposition with apathy. Sloth and apathy consider indifference and boredom, which can become depression. This situation is not necessarily contemplated by a lazy person, who simply is looking for the best way to do something saving energy, optimizing his or her resources.

On the other hand, we could say that laziness and technology go along. Technology, infact, answers to many needs making life more comfortable – or at least tries to – in a cause/effect concatenation. The lazy one desires improve technology, which make us even lazier.

The best example, deeply rooted in Prehistory, is the invention of the wheel. Of course it had to be a collective creation, but it’s funny thinking about a cave man who, one day, thought to himself “I’m tired of carrying weights”. Maybe he was mocked by the strongest Neanderthal men (but less forward-looking, obviously). “Hahaha, it’s never going to work, real cave men load everything on their shoulders, you feminine!”. So, in centuries, the wheeled wagon was pulled by hads, then horses, finally an engine, and it all made possible to travel the world with less risks and time.

The prototype of a wheel. Thet where probably invented by the Sumers. Such a revolutionary and lazy object

Writing is the conventional passage from Prehistory to History, it’s fundamental for every culture all over the planet. The amanuensis monks did a really valuable and artistic job transcribing the classic books and preserve knowledge. But the real revolution was Johanes Gutenberg‘s printing press. That guaranteed a quick spreading of ideas (Lutheranism at first) and made books accessible for almost everyone, at a reasonable price.

Remaining in the communications field, we have to mention the mass media. The phone made us connecting without leaving home, the same for radio, tv and newspapers (if we have a subscription), which made obsolete going in the central square of the town to get info. The laziest of all is internet, that made enciclopedias (sorry for the door to door sellers!) and dictionaries unnecesary, we just have to google it without losing calories. We can know anything in a while but, side effect, we lost a bit of “chasing” skills. And we lost brain abilities. We don’t calculate, we don’t learn phone numbers or itineraries anymore, counting too much on electronic devices. Comfort gives, comfort takes, it’s just the price to pay to progress. But it’s up to each one of us finding its own cross-line.

Thomas Edison, one of the most prolific inventors

And so on and on, from heaters (who would break wood?), to elevators, from escalators to remote controllers: how hard hat to be changing channels 50 years ago (they weren’t too much, though), or regulating the volume!

The ideal world of many lazy dreamers wouldn’t be possible without scholars and scientists who actually did inventions that risked to remain on paper, if the inventors where too lazy. It’s too easy to quote Oscar Wilde to enhance laziness, so we turn to Thomas Edison, probably the most prolific genius of all times. “Genius is one percent inspiration and 99% transpiration”(that goes for sweating), he said. But we also know that “if necessity is the mother of invention, laziness is sometimes its father”.


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