Once upon a time, things were made to serve a purpose. Consider the light bulb, the compass, and the cardiac pacemaker. No doubt necessity was once the mother of invention.
Fast forward to the present. What's happened? It seems that everywhere I go, I'm bombarded with completely useless and unnecessary stuff. Yesterday, someone tried to sell me a 14-inch pencil--the "Jumbo Jotter." I'll admit I was tempted, and I imagined myself sauntering into Monday's 3:00 meeting, only to whip out my enormous pencil and start taking notes like it was just another day at the office. My colleagues would laugh, we'd all have a good chuckle, but then some persnickety associate would point out the obvious: I had wasted $9.95 and a tree in Paraguay for a D-list joke.
The problem with useless products is threefold. First, they squander natural resources (energy, raw materials, mineral deposits and infomercial star Anthony Sullivan's precious time). Secondly, they clog up landfills and, thirdly, they throw us into a Samsara-like cycle of never ending consumption.
Take for example, the Toastmaster Electric Can Opener - Model TCO2 (white). Yes, of course this gadget could be a godsend for the arthritic and handicapped. For the rest of us, however, it's just another gateway to misery.
1. Lift blade assembly.
2. Place can against positioning bar guide and metal wheel.
3. Press button until can opening process is complete.
We press the button and eat our spam with little worry. Then the tragedy sets in. A few weeks go by and a rubber tire forms around our recently slim midsection. A double chin appears. Is that arm flab? Manual can opening burns calories. The lack of physical activity has atrophied our muscles.
Hence useless gadget number two: the Sauna Belt (note this product was recently recalled for safety reasons). This girdle of a device claims to heat the belly, increasing body temperature, so to literally melt away excess pounds. As it happens, the only thing the Sauna Belt is really good for is repelling members of the opposite sex and scorching its clientele. Burned and fat, what are we to do? Sharper Image's personal air conditioner provides comfort in times of distress. Just place the battery operated metal collar around your neck and you'll enjoy the blissful blow of cool air and water vapor on your face.
My point is that it never ends. As we're buying up all of this "stuff," we're wasting money, polluting the earth and adding another piece of junk to our already overcrowded lives. To offset the havoc we purchase yet another useless product and on and on it goes.
Yes, it's a cruel cruel world out there. And if for a moment a gigantic pencil, fuzzy toilet seat cover or fat burning belt will make it seem all the more bearable, then purchase away. But at least try to buy used.
Behold the gallery . . .
Top Ten Most Useless and Unnecessary Pieces of Crap
The Auto-Adjusting Wrench Put the monkey wrench to shame. No need to sweat and waste your energy spinning the thumbwheel manually. Instead, just press "power" and the Auto-Adjusting Wrench will mechanically close in on that nut like a python closing in on its prey. Of course, once adjusted you'll have to turn the wrench yourself, but at least you got the hard part out of the way.
The Banana Holder Not to be confused with the "Banana Hammock." Seriously though, what happens when you are down to one banana? How does that Banana stay safe?
Oh, of course! Silly me! Just put it in a Plastic Banana Guard.
The Plastic Banana Guard
The Battery-Powered Spinning Bottle Jeez, kids today! They have it so easy. Back in my day (insert rambling aged voice here) we actually had to rotate the bottle. Can you imagine? Whirling it by hand to facilitate a painful make-out session or seven minutes in heaven. What torture. We really were living in the dark ages.
The Fuzzy Toilet Seat Cover Aside from serving absolutely no purpose whatsoever, the furry toilet seat is gross. I mean, why on earth would I want a carpet on my toilet? I don't want to get into graphic detail here, but stray tagnuts and winnets . . . before you know it you've got a dingleberry garden.
The Paper Weight If by divine intervention a gust of wind blazeth through your windowless cubicle, be sure to protect thy papers with a 4 ounce paperweight.
The Mechanized Egg Cracker The line of crap destined to fill up your kitchen is seemingly endless. Exhibit A: the egg cracker, a plastic device with which you . . . crack an egg. God forbid we need to knock on the side of a bowl. How, one wonders, has humanity ever survived without a mechanized egg cracker?
The Baby Wipes Warmer The baby industry capitalizes on the deepest fears of new and nervous parents. Certainly your baby will be uncomfortable, unhappy and will hate you for life if you do not wipe its bum with a warm wipey. This particular model ensures that it won't dehydrate the wipes, "as leading wipe warmers tend to do." You know what else won't dry out the wipes? Not using a wipe warmer.
The Melon Wedger Need I point out that most kitchens have a knife?
The Leaf Blower What good is a rake when you can happily puff leaves into your neighbor's yard with a gas powered leaf blower? Yeah, blowers hemorrhage fossil fuel, but then again nothing's more satisfying than chasing down that last recalcitrant leaf and blasting it into oblivion.