Convenience is a bad goal

When we strive for convenience, we often make things worse

Everyone likes convenience. In fact, we like it so much that many of our day to day decisions are primarily influenced by it. However, just because something is convenient, doesn't mean it's good—or even enjoyable!

Convenience can be a useful tool, in that if we make good things convenient (e.g. public transport) we can encourage people to use them. However, modern society often enables unhealthy forms of convenience.

Abstracting cost

Convenience, and particularly technological convenience, is used to hide real costs. When you order delivery you no longer interact with the restaurant or delivery driver. When you buy on Amazon you no longer interact with a store and cashier. Business externalities are purposely hidden from you so that they don't factor into your mental calculus. Abstracting away the costs involved in business and reducing everything to a monetary exchange robs individuals of agency and importance.


The advent of an economy where people simply continue buying more and more new things is relatively recent. We used to be able to fix products, or continue to reuse them for a long time. However, given a design trade-off between convenience and sustainability we almost universally choose convenience.

Think of how much waste is involved in every purchase you make. Every wrapper from the grocery store, box from buying online, etc. Convenience has both increased the waste of individual purchases, and increased the amount that we buy.

Discomfort is important

Convenience is a result of our avoidant tendencies. We use convenience to avoid discomfort, but many discomforts are normal, and healthy, to experience.

If you are forced to confront the reality of where your food and products come from, to interact with someone, or to see what other people are going through, that is a good thing. Avoiding discomfort is not worth also avoiding truth.