Oliver Burkeman’s Inconvenient Truth

Oliver Burkeman’s Inconvenient Truth

A BBC Radio 4 Series


Oliver Burkeman examines the insidious way in which convenience has warped our existence

Bestselling author Oliver Burkeman is well known for his books and radio programmes exploring how we can lead meaningful and productive lives in an age of overwhelm. This time, he brings his keen sense of the ridiculous to bear on our obsession with convenience, looking at the hidden pitfalls of a life of ease.

Over the past 20 years, the on-demand industry has flourished, promising to solve our problems, save us time and spare us from tedious, time-consuming tasks. But, in attempting to excise mundane experiences, we've inadvertently ended up getting rid of many things that are actually necessary for our well-being. Having everything delivered denies us the chance to interact with other people, leaving us lonelier. Services such as Apple Pay encourage us to make pointless purchases, meaning we're less likely to have spare cash to give to someone begging on the street. And our demands for immediacy and instant gratification have made us lazier and more impatient.

In these five episodes, Oliver attempts to assess the consequences of our reliance on convenience. Helping him are a wealth of authors and thinkers, including Kat Rosenfield, Julian Baggini, Jonathan Rowson, Mark Manson and Coco Krumme. He asks how our sense of belonging is undermined by frictionless travel and effortless digital communication; spends time with the gig economy workers who pick up the tab to smooth our path; delves into the spiritual and psychological implications of convenience; and explains how, since moving from Brooklyn to rural Yorkshire, he has come to love his less convenient life.

Throughout, Oliver shows how convenience culture has made our lives subtly worse - and how, by resisting its temptations at least some of the time, we could become happier, healthier and more fulfilled individuals.

Production credits

Presented by Oliver Burkeman

Produced by Peter McManus

Executive Producer: Heather Kane-Darling

With Kat Rosenfield, Julian Baggini, Jonathan Rowson, Mark Manson, Craig Lambert, Coco Krumme

First broadcast BBC Radio 4, 29 May-2 June 2023

© 2023 BBC Studios Distribution Ltd. (P) 2023 BBC Studios Distribution Ltd.

About the author

Oliver Burkeman

Oliver Burkeman is the author of the Sunday Times bestselling Four Thousand Weeks and The Antidote, and for many years wrote a popular weekly column on psychology for the Guardian, 'This Column Will Change Your Life'. His work has also appeared in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Psychologies and New Philosopher.

He has a devoted following for his writing on productivity, mortality, the power of limits, and building a meaningful life in an age of bewilderment.

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