Sunday, January 23, 2011

Life's improvements seldom are

We as a society seem to have become a nation of over-doers. Now, on the surface there is nothing wrong with wanting to make something bigger and better, faster and stronger. That is how we have become a world leader in many fields. It is one of the things that makes America great.

But not everything needs to be improved or added to. Does changing something necessarily improve it? If you add a pinch of salt to a soup, it enhances the flavor. Does that mean adding several more shakes or a half pound improve it? Likely it just makes it saltier and covers up the taste. Does changing from 'salt' to 'sea salt' improve it? Again, likely it is just a marketing ploy. I have often found that salads suffer same fate as I am just a guilty of drowning my lettuce with too much Italian as the next guy.

There is nothing wrong with improving design. Computers need to grow and have become more friendly over the years. Really, who would want to go back and use their computer from 1997? Remember the days of your computer locking up nearly every hour? Who would want to return to that? That is development. However, do we really need a 'super sticky' post-it note? What was wrong with the non-super sticky? Did you not use enough of the sticky stuff in the first place? Does that mean what you sold us before was old and crappy? (I believe George Carlin had a bit about that years ago). What happens then is always the same, the price of the item goes up and the quantity goes down.

And bigger isn't always better. What good is a car that goes 130 mph when the speed limit is 70? How many times have you taken that behemoth four wheel drive off road anyway? Do I really need a weed-trimmer that will run for seven hours on a single charge when I have a quarter-acre suburban lot? Many of us over-buy for what we actually need. Perhaps that is due to poor quality products so we buy a better model, which means a higher price, so it won't break down as fast. I know so many who have a 'professional model' tool who can't nail two boards together without help. What, the Black and Decker drill that you need twice a year isn't good enough? That's a classic over-buy.

Most items we encounter in our mundane, everyday life probably seldom need improving. I don't need a new version of the same stapler I have used for years. Neither do I need specialty camel hair paint brushes because the boars hair brushes I have been using for years are just fine, I guess unless we are running out of boars.

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