Opinion: The easy button


The office supply giant Staples is well into an advertising run extolling the ease with which we can order, restock and manage our need for paper, pens and printer ink refills. In the campaign, various users are imagined to be confronted with an office supply dilemma and they push a big red “easy” button wherein the problem is instantly resolved and the challenge is successfully confronted. The ads have proven so successful that the retailer is now offering mock-ups of the easy button at it stores. And, they are selling quite well.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have such a device? Whenever we are confronted with the travails of ordinary adult life, we could simply push the button and all would be made simple. Sipping a cup of coffee while reviewing this column would have required extraordinary effort only a few generations ago. Getting the coffee was almost impossible. Then, heating it required the collection of wood and the tending of the fire. Today, we push a button and Nespresso delivers a perfect, steaming cup from coffee delivered to our doors. We could call it the easy button.

If life can be tamed from chaos to sublime by the mere press of finger, what other annoyances might we relegate to buttondom? Is the television remote control a device that we can use to remove us from irritating or offensive humans? Can we click “delete” on our computers to retire email that complicates or mires our lives? It is possible that the “easy” button is already there but that we don’t make use of it?

Sure, an office supplier cannot solve all of our problems with an imaginary button. But, it can show us that the solution to many of our worries is already available if we simply know to take action.