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iamthemob's avatar

What inventions do you find useless or pretty much superfluous?

Asked by iamthemob (17147points) September 18th, 2010

I was walking my dog this morning…and when I wanted the leash shorter, I wrapped it around my hand. I realized that this was essentially the same thing as using one of those leash-leader things where you push the button and it locks the leash or snaps it back depending on how long you want it. The only extra thing it seems to do is enable you to accidentally snap the leash back and freak your dog out.

So…I started to wonder what other “inventions” there are out there that claim to make our modern lives easier, but in the end are really DIY concepts fancied up to make us spend more money.

Anyone have any?

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67 Answers

YARNLADY's avatar

Nearly every invention is useless until you have a need for it. If you never broke your hand by wrapping a dog’s leash around it, why would you want a retractable one? However, if you have very weak hands, like I do, the retractable leash is the only thing that makes it possible for me to take my dog for a walk.

If you never called anyone, why on earth was the telephone invented? If you never needed seat belts, what a waste of money they are – except for the hundreds of people whose life have been saved by them.

iamthemob's avatar

@YARNLADY – good point. However, many of these things are marketed WELL beyond their target audience (which, of course, is capitalism). So of course, there can be a benefit for a particular segment, but it’s not necessarily just that segment that’s buying the product in question.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

Electric bread knife.

Electric meat carving knife.

Rice cooker.

Hand crank cheese graters.

Ben_Dover's avatar

cigarette rolling machines.

jaytkay's avatar

Exercise machines and exercise clubs with a monthly fee.

I ride my bike 9 miles to work when it’s not snowing or raining. It takes an extra 10 minutes compared to driving or taking the train. But it means I have to spend 0 minutes and 0 dollars at the exercise club.

I also run around the neighborhood, rather than going to a club and running on a treadmill.

While I understand biking to work is not practical for a lot of people, the treadmill mystifies me.

iamthemob's avatar

@Ben_Dover – yeah – plus, doesn’t that just take the fun out of the ritual of it?

jaytkay's avatar

@Neizvestnaya Rice cookers are wonderful. Set it and forget it, you don’t have to worry about boiling over or burning.

poisonedantidote's avatar

I know im going to take some stick for this, but yea, mobile phones. more precisely, new modern mobile phones. being able to phone people is convenient, texting not so convenient, but everything else they have is more or less useless. little horrid deviced designed to keep your hands busy. i actually dont even own one and refuse to buy one. im not going to give money to a phone company so i can talk to people, i can do that for free already.

if all they did was make calls, and they where tiny and voice activated and went on your wrist maybe i would buy one. or if they could detect life signs and neutron emissions like a star trek tricorder then maybe i would consider buying one.

SuperMouse's avatar

Baby wipe warmers. Unless one stores their wipies close to an air conditioning vent or open window in freezing weather, I just can’t imagine how they could get cold enough to require warming.

rebbel's avatar

The retractable leash makes for a convenient temporary (indoor) clothing line.

YARNLADY's avatar

@SuperMouse Ha, ha, I never heard of that. We just hold them in our hand until they warm up enough.

@rebbel I have used the retractable leash for that also.

lloydbird's avatar

You know, I haven’t committed any of them to memory.
Can’t think why.
I could tell you about no end of useful inventions.

Oh, wait!! There was that Ear and Nose-hair Trimmer.
That did neither.
Great gift that was.

jaytkay's avatar

Baby wipe warmers.

That is real? The idea is so ridiculous I refuse to Google it

SuperMouse's avatar

Yes, Yes they are for real. Here is one for the stylish baby on the move!

jaytkay's avatar

@SuperMouse Gahhh! I clicked! I did not want to know that existed!

Mamradpivo's avatar

The Snuggie. Haven’t people ever heard of sweaters?

janbb's avatar

Hot dog cookers.

Trillian's avatar

Odor shield garbage bags. Come on. Take it out at night. New improved odor-combating garbage bags that don’t actually have a fragrance, they just “neutralize odor. Really? Can’t you just take the bag out at night?
Spray on hair.
Pre peeled potatoes in a bag that you just microwave, then mash. Really? Can a potato really kick your ass? It takes about thirty seconds to peel a potato.
Pretzels inside of m & m’s. Individually sized servings of almost any food. 4 oz cans of soda.

Seek's avatar

I’m with @poisonedantidote

Phones that do myriad things other than make phone calls.

If I want to drag a computer around with me, I’ll get one with a screen big enough to read at arm’s length. Like a tablet.

Also (and related) – bluetooth headsets. I don’t care who you are and what you do – you’re not that goddamn important. Either excuse yourself and take the call, or let it go to voicemail and call them back after you’ve paid for your groceries. You look like a fucking Borg Drone.

ragingloli's avatar

the iphone/ipad/ipod/ivomit

iamthemob's avatar

@ragingloli – Really? The ipod? I must know why…

jaytkay's avatar

@iamthemob I am not speaking for ragingloli, but an iPod is pretty lame in my eyes because when I am outside my home, I don’t wear headphones. I like to be aware of people around me and say “hi” and “how are you” and such.

ragingloli's avatar

because I find it utterly pointless to pay hundreds of whatever currency you have for something that just plays music and for which other products that are magnitutes cheaper are more than adequate.
I do not need a mobile device that can store 40000 songs. My collection has not even 1000. And I doubt that any sizeable number of people have or will ever have such a large collection. It is money wasted on space that you are never going to use.

Right now I have a 4Gbyte Philips MP3 player, which I got for free from my little sister, and even that one has way too much space.

Seek's avatar

40,000 songs would almost fit all of my husband’s collection (what’s in the computer anyway) it’d only be about 8,000 short

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

An electric toothbrush. Show me some dental statistics before you say that I’m wrong.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

@ragingloli: I could fill 40,000 songs and would love a device like this if it was able to plug into my car’s stereo or anyone else’s home speaker/stereo system. I’d pay a few hundred dollars to be able to transport my music collections.

YARNLADY's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr re: bluetooth, I might agree with you, but my husband’s company pays him really good money to be on call 24/7, so even when he is driving, he must be available to answer security and other work related calls. Also, he has answered calls from his elderly mother and probably saved her life on at least one occasion.

AmWiser's avatar

link
Sub-Prime Mortgages
Crocs I don’t care how popular they are, they’re ugalee.
Pop-Up Ads
Snuggie for Dogs
Asbestos we’re still paying for this invention

Pandora's avatar

the clapper

Austinlad's avatar

Just about anything that’s advertised on TV between 11:00 p.m. and 4 a.m.

Vortico's avatar

I second @Austinlad‘s answer. Also, the Most Useless Machine.

ratboy's avatar

@Vortico, are you joking? I use my machine during most of the day, every day.

YARNLADY's avatar

@ratboy—That reminds me of the easy button at Staples.

Berserker's avatar

I once saw this commercial for this thing that waters plants for you. It’s called The Globe. and you put water in it, and stick it in the soil of potted plants. It dispenses water whenever the plant needs it, apparently. I call bullshit. It’s just a piece of plastic that looks like a Christmas ornament.
What, are people too fucking lazy to water their own damn plants? I guess people are too busy watching The Tonight Show or something.

That, and the select button on video game consoles. Seriously, what has that button really ever done for anyone?

woodcutter's avatar

those coffee machine attachments that let you slide the machine out from under the upper cabinet and back….as seen on TV

Ben_Dover's avatar

Video games. Although, too be sure, at one time I enjoyed Missile Command and Super Mario Brothers. I especially liked being the Princess in Super Mario Bros. 2!

keobooks's avatar

Before I even opened this question up, I was thinking exactly of what @SuperMouse suggested. The baby wipe warmer. I am SO glad I didn’t get one as a gift. I can’t imagine needing something so silly.

Brian1946's avatar

Tobacco cigarettes.

Sure they might provide temporary relief from stress for some people, but there are several other stress relievers that don’t cause lung cancer, emphysema, foul air, or heart attacks.

iamthemob's avatar

@Symbeline – I might actually use something like that. I commit unintentional herbicide on a regular basis due to my inability to commit to support the life of something that doesn’t tell me when it needs water.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

@Symbeline I was given a set as a gift, and would have used them when I was gone for a month, but gave away all of my plants last year. @iamthemob I’d be happy to send them to you.

iamthemob's avatar

oooh! Regifting SUCCESS!

keobooks's avatar

OK this one is NSFW, so click at your own risk.

Why anyone would need a lamp down there is beyond me.

iamthemob's avatar

@keobooks – You don’t know much about men if that’s beyond you. If you did, you’d know that they often don’t really know a lot about what’s the best thing to do down there. ;-)

On another note, on the NSFW front, this product is along the same NSFW lines, but I think is one of the more useful inventions in the field (although there are some above who object to the ipod, which would render this useless…)

keobooks's avatar

@iamthemob Maybe I just have a really good husband ;) HE doesn’t need a light. Woah.. one is a bit frivolous but fun looking.

Seek's avatar

Holy crap, @iamthemob… I might buy an iPod just to justify buying that thing.

Ben_Dover's avatar

Also don’t let us forget salad forks!

iamthemob's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr it’s kind of amazing, isn’t it

keobooks's avatar

Does anyone actually use a salad spinner? That has always seemed really silly to me.

iamthemob's avatar

salad spinners are actually really helpful. They help keep everything from wilting

keobooks's avatar

Ahhh. I figured that perhaps I didn’t appreciate them because I’m terrible in the kitchen. I get salad in a bag and we eat the whole thing in one sitting.

jaytkay's avatar

re: salad spinners – Everything is helpful, but you can also do without it. Most kichen items are superfluous.

Shaking leaves in a colander works like a salad spinner.

We all LIKE to have things. But we don’t NEED many things.

My finances are constrained, I’ve had a couple of bad years, that obviously colors my opinion.

But, on the upside, I am learning to much better discern between “want” and “need”.

Ben_Dover's avatar

And how bout eyebrow pencils and other make-up for women.

iamthemob's avatar

@Ben_Dover

Hmm – INTERESTING point. I never really thought about that.

Then again, I don’t really think of that as an invention.

iamthemob's avatar

@ragingloli

Hilarious – that’s pretty much what I thought once I read @Ben_Dover‘s last post – and then also what made me realize I didn’t really think either were inventions.

Seek's avatar

Ah, but makeup has always served a function. There’s a reason we still talk about Nefertiti and Cleopatra. And it’s not because of their personalities. ^_^

Ben_Dover's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr

And what function does make-up serve?

SuperMouse's avatar

@Ben_Dover when I was 15 and wwwaaayyy overdoing the powder blue eye shadow my uncle informed me that the function of make-up is to cover flaws. I would tend to agree with him.

Ben_Dover's avatar

@SuperMouse So billions of dollars are spent annually by women who perceive themselves as flawed?

SuperMouse's avatar

@Ben_Dover I think that pretty much sums it up. What else are all those air brushed ads featuring beautiful women with flawless skin, beautiful bodies, and amazing manes of thick lush hair trying to make women believe? For my money they are all about making us feel flawed therefore feeling the need to fix, or at least cover those flaws.

Ben_Dover's avatar

@SuperMouse

I cannot imagine such paltry tricks actually making a person believe s/he is flawed. these people must have absolutely no self-confidence.

Trillian's avatar

@iamthemob Um… I just wanted to point out that Mr. Bean puts his lettuce in his sock and twirls it around his head and manages just fine without a salad spinner! ;-)

Seek's avatar

@Ben_Dover

Welcome to reality, may I take your order?

iamthemob's avatar

@Trillian

We know how that worked out for him in the end. Tea on his suit and food on the floor. What a sad little man…

submariner's avatar

Around 20 years ago I read an essay on this very topic. You know what the writer proposed as a completely unnecessary invention? Aerosol shaving cream. And you know what? He was right. I have a little bar of shaving soap that has lasted me 9 years! Of course, I only shave regularly during the hottest 2 months of the year, but still: no CFCs, minimal packaging, long lasting, lower cost per shave—beats the can, for sure.

Wait a minute, I think I read that essay before I even started shaving… more like 30 years ago. Holy crap. Gather ye rosebuds while ye may.

YARNLADY's avatar

How about this new foot cleaning device?

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