As society has evolved, we have gradually developed ways to meet our most basic needs. As we do, we create new needs in order to employ the many millions of people who are now no longer needed to literally hunt or gather, and can instead be used to sell Apple products or do taxes. In first world countries, where most people’s immediate needs for food and shelter have not been problems for some time, I think it’s safe to say that we’ve gone so far as to add another layer onto Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.
Here are the five worst things we’ve created in an effort to meet the needs of modern life:
5. Conference Calls
The Need Satisfied: The need to sound important and smart on a phone call only when you are accidentally on mute.
Why It’s the Worst: Conference calls have got to be the most awkward form of communication humans have invented, and that includes the uncomfortable ritual of waiters at chain restaurants singing peppy, unlicensed versions of Happy Birthday. Without any visual form of communication, it’s almost impossible for a group of people to have a normal, productive conversation. Either everyone’s talking or everyone’s silent, and there’s always one person who calls in from an airport that no one can understand.
4. Mommy Wars
The Need Satisfied: The need to have everyone else agree that our life choices are the best.
Why It’s the Worst: Every few years – although this year it feels like it’s happened every month – someone says something about stay-at-home moms or working moms and people freak out. Women who stay home want people to acknowledge how hard that is, working moms want people to acknowledge how hard that is, and firefighters battling wild fires in California just continue to do their jobs without needing the whole country to start a slow clap for them. I don’t know why this annoys me so much, maybe just because it gets irritating to hear two groups of people in a first-world country arguing over whose lives are worse. I mean, why would you want to win that argument? Let’s just decide that raising kids is tough, and other jobs are tough, and plenty about life is tough, so everyone just do what you can. As for parenting, just try to raise children that won’t grow up to get face tattoos, and we’ll all be OK.
3. Reality TV
The Need Satisfied: The need to feel like even if our life choices are not the best, they are so much better than other people’s.
Why It’s the Worst: Reality TV has enabled the worst among us to make a living off of being publicly, and shamelessly, even worse than they started. So while it feels good to watch Keeping Up with the Kardashians and think, “Well at least I’m not an idiot,” we would feel much worse about ourselves – and society – if we completed that thought with, “Well at least I’m not an idiot and a millionaire.”
2. Dog Costumes
The Need Satisfied: The need to feel completely and totally superior to another species.
Why It’s the Worst: We’ve already bred dogs to be subservient and dependent on us, to the point that most of them would not survive long in the wild. Which is fine, because neither would we. But nothing says, “We have dominated this species” like dressing them like Yoda or Tinkerbell, characters that dogs not only don’t understand but would probably try to eat or hump if given the option.
1. Car Alarms
The Need Satisfied: The need to protect one’s belongings while simultaneously pissing everyone off.
Why It’s the Worst: Last night a car drove by my window with the car alarm on, and I was so happy that it was moving and not just parked out there that it was a solid ten minutes before I realized what that meant. Car alarms create a false sense of security, as they depend on the general public to get involved in crime fighting, and the general public is really terrible at that. That’s why superheros are such a popular concept. We really just want one dude to take care of it, even if it means putting all of our faith in a grown man in a costume.