So a while ago, my better half read me a story from some web site, involving some survey that was taken regarding what modern conveniences without which people could not live.
Household discussion ensued, much of it centering on the question of “couldn’t” vs. “wouldn’t want to.” For example, I really wouldn’t want to live without electric light in this day and age. However, the absence of electric light doesn’t mean I would flounder and perish. Refrigeration makes an enormous difference in my quality of life, but I’ve also lived without it and while every Ohio summer would likely make me want to live elsewhere if there were no cooling technology and refrigeration for food, it’s not like it would be impossible. And yet, things like “air to breathe” and “the sun” are kinda… well… no-brainers. So they don’t really need to be on the list.
At a minimum, I believe in always having a blade and a means to make a fire. Some hardcore survival type folks also say “cordage,” but as to that, I’m generally unconcerned — because I have the ability to produce cordage from practically anything and because the odds of me being somewhere without yarn or yarn-related stuff are pretty much zero — although it’s a very, very good idea if, you know, you’re not a human textile mill. Anyway, those three things make just about everything else possible, so that’s why I’m never without a blade and fire. Unless, of course, I’m on an airplane, which really bums me out, because the scenario I always believed in being ready to handle was surviving a plane crash in the middle of nowhere.
But I digress. All of that is survival; but what about quality of life? What 5 trappings of the modern (not necessarily totally industrial) world would I really rather not have to eliminate from my day to day existence? Is it the Internet? Telephony? Global shipping? Air travel? Fast food? Nah. Here’s my list of five things, and I’d love to hear yours.
#1. Sanitation. This is not purely an industrial thing, but 20th century sanitation, man, I’m telling you — I have lived without it, and I have missed it. This is a really serious quality of life issue all over the world.
#2. Antibiotics. Dear Antibiotics: I owe you my life, many times over. Thank you.
#3. Dentistry. I mean, I guess it might not matter without the first two, considering life expectancy would also be short, but as much as I hate going to the dentist and all, I have all my teeth save one, and that one’s got a fancy implant you can’t even tell isn’t a real tooth. Teeth are awesome. Modern dentistry keeps them. Win.
#4. Refrigeration. Dude, you do wonders for food, and also make cold beer possible year-round.
#5. The washing machine. This probably changes if I don’t have a child, but the amount of time the washing machine saves me is… it’s… it’s just staggering. I’ve lived without this technology (and without access to laundromats, for instance) and handwashing all your clothes and bedding and household textiles is a lot of work.
So what are yours? Let’s hear it!