Humans are completely consumed with the technological advances of today. Whether it comes to communication, news outlets, agriculture, transportation, and so on; we are surrounded by it from the moment we wake up. What experts fear is that while we know the improvement, the convenience and overall benefit of technology, we do not know its adverse effects long term. Rob Reich, Professor of Political Science at Stanford University, says that although we know the pros of this digital age he is confident that over the next decade we will see where it has proved detrimental to us as a society. He continues, saying that we have seen issues sporadically start to arise redently and this only can trend to even worse outcomes going forward. This is similar to when canned food products came out in the early 1900’s. People marveled at the convenience and accessibility of canned foods and they skyrocketed across the board. Everything imaginable was canned with tons of preservatives and other ingredients to make it nonperishable. Here, we saw an immediate short term benefit, but no one even thought that there could be anything wrong with consuming these products in such a high volume. Looking back on this we see that there are so many health problems associated with this change in diet such as diabetes, high cholesterol and heart health in general. Another example of this instant hit products that no one thought twice about were cigarettes. People went from enjoying a smoke on airplanes and in hospitals, to now realizing the destruction that was caused by them. This is the scary part about very new ways of living and products we are exposed to. Human nature has proved that if we like a product, we absolutely abuse it until we realize the hidden long term side effects.
The same can be said about human activity in today’s society. We continue to try and find the quickest and most effortless way to complete tasks. A great example of this is uber. Instead of walking or biking places we pay for someone to pick us up and quickly bring us to our destination. Humans used to need to be active to survive. There were no elevators, drive throughs, smart phones, high tech cars, high powered machinery and so on. We’ve become so advanced that we are no longer reliant on the body that created these unbelievable advances in the first place. We’ve seen obesity explode in the U.S. and when taking a closer look it could be tied with a few factors. In the paper, “The Growth of Obesity and Technological Change,” there is a correlation between the price of physical activity in relation to the food we purchase. “In a post-industrial and redistributive society, such as the United States, most work entails little exercise and not working may not cause a large reduction in weight, because food stamps and other welfare benefits are available to people who do not work.” This quotation from the paper dives into the fact that after becoming so advanced we are not required to do much manual labor at all. The authors go on to say that this has in a sense made physical activity more expensive in an abstract sense. We now need to set aside time and money to get our physical activity outside of our occupation/daily life. When this has become too “expensive” we have seen our health as a society deteriorate and our body weight to increase dramatically across the board. Along with this lack of physical activity, the food that is being sold to us has been decreasing in quality year over year. This is due to the ongoing growth of the population where agriculture is left to find the fastest ways to get food out. Corners are cut in order to produce food at this volume and this inevitably hurts the quality of the products. Also, cheaper foods are higher in calories, sugars and preservatives. This economically looks appealing, but is often horrible for our bodies if consumed on a regular basis. The higher the quality, the higher the price. This obviously makes sense, as something that is overall healthier or better for your body would be more costly, but it is a sad reality that the majority of the foods found in a grocery store have been mass produced and as filling as possible. It’s no wonder that we see amazing deals on huge bottles of sodas and family sized bags of chips. These companies have products that are loaded with horrible ingredients, but they have us hooked on the addictive taste. They have perfected their manufacturing to have unbelievable margins, and the public eats it up, no pun intended. We buy these items in bulk and households go right to them, eating and drinking morning to night.
As a society, we need to take a step back and slow down this mass produced influx of technology and unhealthy consumption. Everything is so fast paced that we do not even realize we are jeopardizing our health in ways that haven’t even been discovered as of yet. We need to turn around our relationship with food and active lifestyles and find a way to “cheapen” the price of getting ourselves moving during the day. Without it we are going to regress quickly and that should be motivation to spend our days with our bodies in mind.