It is just me, or have you also noticed that lately marketers seem to come up with the most useless pseudo-time saving products ever? I mean, I know how it works: it doesn’t suffice for publicly-traded companies to make profits and be financially healthy, they always have to make more and more and reinvent their offer in any way they can while keeping costs down, so they can please their investors quarter after quarter.
If you make dryer sheets, I guess your possibilities are not infinite: they eliminated static, came up with different scents, then even invented microscopic time-release bubbles (whatever that means) so your clothes feel fresher longer. OK. But the bar you stick on your dryer wall so you don’t have to “worry about it” for four months? Really? I suppose the product is not bad in itself… But selling this with a smiling woman saying “wow, if only all my chores could be automatic like this!” ? That thing probably cost twice as much as a box of good old sheets, which actually lasts more than four months. I feel they completely got it wrong. Taking a sheet from the box and dumping it along with the wet clothes every time I do laundry takes all of three seconds, and is not where I waste time, not where I’m annoyed, not when I feel like I’d rather do something else. What I need is a dryer that would fold and neatly pile the clothes afterward, according to their owner. Now that would be time-saving! In the meantime, I can deal with the individual dryer sheets.
Same with the dishwater detergent contraption which you place on your upper basket and which “takes care of 12 washes, so you can forget about it”. Probably super expensive, not to mention made of more wasteful plastic than necessary. And the same “time-saving” message doesn’t resonate: putting the detergent in the compartment takes two seconds for each load: I can do it! The hassle is actually loading and unloading the said dishwasher, or us forgetting that it’s clean and adding dirty dishes to it, especially on weeknights when I don’t want to leave the kitchen in a mess but I’m tired and I would much rather play for ten minutes with my family. This is what bugs me in my daily routine; this is where a difference would be made.
Lately I’ve been thinking about that constant message we’re bombarded with, the one that convinces us that we “don’t have time”, “never have time,” for anything. Don’t get me wrong: we’re a dual-career family, things are busy and can get pretty hectic, and let’s face it, the trend will probably only deepen in the next few years. I do often feel like I don’t have enough time, and I would love to have more, to “take my time” on weeknights or “have a little more time” for myself or to do things that are more enjoyable.
But I feel this message is counterintuitive and really doesn’t help. We keep hearing for instance that “who has time to cook?,” a message that created a whole “convenience” industry that now thrives. There’s an ad here for a local supermarket, featuring a “busy, modern” family coming home at the end of their day, saying “on days like these, dinner must be fast and easy.” Then you see them popping shrimp skewers in the oven, saying, “we’re so glad we can count on our supermarket’s fish counter”. Granted, it’s probably way better to eat this than fast food, but then I still think the message is slightly twisted. How long does it actually take to score shrimp on four skewers? Five minutes? That’s not really meaningful time-saving to me, especially as you pay the price for such “convenience.” And since you had to stop at the supermarket to get these, your time-saving is in fact probably negative, much more so anyway than if you had bought the shrimp during a weekly grocery run and thawed them the night before. Same with baking goods in boxes, which have always puzzled me: there’s probably a two-minute difference between pouring pancake mix in a bowl and adding milk and eggs, and measuring two cups of flour, a teaspoon of salt and one of baking powder, and then adding the same milk and eggs. It’s OK, I have that kind of time.
While these are clearly nothing more than marketing tactics, I still feel they contribute to a general feeling of everyone being stressed and always rushed, sometimes much more so than necessary. If you keep hearing that you “don’t have time” and “must save time,” you will start to believe it. You will start thinking that it’s not possible to cook a simple dinner every night, and order in pizza, while forgetting that you could actually make delicious fresh pasta in the time it takes to arrive. You will start thinking that you “need” not be bothered with dishwasher detergent, and so on.
P.S. I’m no saint, by the way. I have been known to buy pre-shredded cheese and pre-washed lettuce once in a while, even while being aware that I do pay an unnecessary premium for them. And some nights, only easy convenience will do. But I still find this general message bothersome.