The Disappearing Art of Reflection: Why We Need Mundane Tasks in the Age of Automation

Robert Thompson
News and Narrative
Published in
3 min readJun 14, 2024

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Photo by Alex Knight on Unsplash

In an age where technology is rapidly automating every aspect of our lives, we find ourselves at a crossroads, questioning the value of mundane tasks that once served as moments of quiet reflection and introspection. This article delves into this pressing issue, exploring the potential consequences of losing these seemingly trivial activities and the impact on our cognitive and emotional well-being.

Picture a scene from a bygone era: a milkmaid, captured in the serene brushstrokes of Vermeer, pouring milk from a terracotta jug. This image evokes a sense of tranquility and mindfulness, a stark contrast to the frenetic pace of modern life, where every spare moment is filled with the incessant tapping and scrolling of our digital devices. I would argue that mundane tasks, such as washing dishes, provide a rare opportunity to mull over our day, free from the constant barrage of digital distractions.

But it’s not just our attention that we’re surrendering to technology; it’s our memories too. There is a generational shift from memorizing poetry to outsourcing our memory to smartphones, questioning whether this convenience comes at the cost of valuable cognitive exercises. This concern is echoed in research indicating that reliance on technology for information retrieval can lead…

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