8 Technologies That Prove What Divides Us Is Smaller Than What Binds Us

8 Technologies That Prove What Divides Us Is Smaller Than What Binds Us
Photo: Henry Guttmann Collection/Hulton Archive, Getty Images

Since man first struck a rock with a slightly smaller rock, technology has ostensibly served to improve our lives. Fast forward a few million years, and our dweeby $US4,000 ($5,548) fridges with “superior organisational storage” will update us on the status of the robot vacuum (on or off). Wait, do I need a toilet to analyse my stool, you ask? What about one with a lighting system and built-in speakers, Kohler adds. It’s confusing, this endless series of solutions to modern problems, so much so that my colleague spent several days documenting his fraught relationship with a cat litter robot.

There’s crap at every turn: plug-in air bathroom fresheners pretending that matches aren’t a thing. The flow of water, dammed by fancy motion-activated sinks with 100% failure rates. Gizmos that don’t justify factory labour, like Ring doorbells. Cash-burning capsules launching rocket fuel-huffing billionaires with too much time on their hands. Keurigs, so help me god. Depending on who you are, you might love a few of the things on that list, and we can spend hours fighting about them.

The rampant divisiveness tech has wrought leaves no room for debate about things that are neither over- nor underrated. Why not focus on the tech that unites us, stuff that objectively sets out to complete a mission and does a fine job without begging for attention with push notifications? We’ve devoted this slideshow to bringing the nation together.

Flashlight

Photo: Kathy Zinn, Wikicommons, Other Photo: Kathy Zinn, Wikicommons, Other

Flashlights are fine. Agree? Of course.

Andrew’s chicken door

Photo: Andrew Couts, Other Photo: Andrew Couts, Other

Gizmodo interim editor-in-chief Andrew Couts made a strong case a while back for a no-frills chicken door that rises and sets with the sun, saving chickens from bloody murder while he’s stuck at the office. Just look at the gif in his post. Function before form. As unimpeachable as a standard toilet plunger. I do not have chickens, but I can dream of that life knowing that the automatic chicken door exists.

Beach metal detectors

Photo: Bruce Bennett, Getty Images Photo: Bruce Bennett, Getty Images

Have you ever seen someone combing the beach with one of these? Didn’t you just want to hold it?

Amtrak Wi-Fi

Photo: Alex Wong, Getty Images Photo: Alex Wong, Getty Images

“Wi-Fi,” Amtrak’s sadistic years-long prank, makes this list only because travellers universally agree that that’s what it is, and therefore, it is properly rated.

Powerstrips

Photo: Ivy Main, Wikicommons, Fair Use Photo: Ivy Main, Wikicommons, Fair Use

One outlet = more outlets. You could have your shit together or live on the verge of an electrical fire, but this household spinal column keeps us all going.

Everything in the lamination and binding section at Staples

Photo: Charles Krupa, AP Photo: Charles Krupa, AP

Staples: the location for all things uncontroversially functional. It’s right there in the name. (This blog is not a Staples ad, but I would gladly do it. Call me.) Staples’s lamination and binding sanctuary offers precious respite from boredom and depression, especially if you happen to be five months into the pandemic and feel a burning desire to laminate the 88-game gin rummy scorecard or print out all the longreads and bind them together into a book you actually want to read. Staples restores order to a chaotic world, and it has gum.

Caulk

Photo: Achim Hering, Wikicommons, Fair Use Photo: Achim Hering, Wikicommons, Fair Use

Caulk! If you’re me, you objectively love icing that comes out of a gun. If you’re a This Old House viewer, you love a secure baseboard. Despite our differences, we can reach a mutual understanding on this issue.

Flypaper

Photo: China Photos, Getty Images Photo: China Photos, Getty Images

I’ve thought twice about this meandering quarantine-brain-addled ode to flypaper I wrote last year. I feared I’d written a portrait of a woman who’s gone mad. Flypaper assuaged my self-doubt a few months ago, when I can home to a massive housefly infestation.

Thanks to flypaper’s long shelf life and maximum efficiency per roll, I had plenty left over from the blog and woke the next morning to find the ribbons adorned with dead insects. I will plug this invention as long as I live. No matter how many lifetime supply offers the flypaper industry extends me, I will still pay for their outstanding product.