Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Why not leave well enough alone?

It's another old Grandma type saying that expressed a meaningful truth.  We are in an age where marketing is all about New! Improved! More+ Don't you wish people would stop improving things?

Not everything, of course. The computer is a great improvement over the Selectric, which improved the typewriter by making erasure easy, though much more expensive.  My ergonomic keyboard is a great improvement too, and probably prolonged the health of my shoulders for years.  Yes, and digital photography is much cheaper and more flexible than film; Photoshop on the other hand, desecrates far more often than it improves. And in the old days you didn't have to look at so many people's pretty bad pictures.

Just the other day Google improved itself on me in some invisible way, and the icon that takes me back to Home page moved to the other side of the screen, who can know why?  Maybe just so they could say it was new.  I found it, but the search annoyed me and broke my train of thought.  It's still not a habit, though, more mental work for an overtaxed brain.  My Thunderbird e-mail improved itself too, and now it plagues me with boxes that wants me to learn more about it.  What?  It sends email to and fro.  I can direct mail to various boxes.  I can send people my own bad pictures.  What more do I need?

We monkeys like new toys, or are we magpies? attracted by glittering items, regardless of their usefulness.  But get a Droid and, if you were born last century it will take you many, many hours of study to learn how to use the damn thing.  Don't drop it!  In olden days, you couldn't hurt a phone.  Ads for the telephone company played on that by showing a handsome dog with a handset in his mouth, cord broken.  The dog was grinning.  And you were never in danger of putting the phone through the washer and drier back when the only phone in the house was black, wired to the wall, and sat in the hall on a little phone table.

Of course, of course, I like many features of life now:  the self-defrosting freezer, tires that last, the motorized wheelchair, Vicodin.  This is just to say that change is not necessarily an improvement.  And more is not necessarily better.  That goes for our lives, too.  Most things have not improved my level of contentment.  
As for improved new new, I read recently in Chogyam Trungpa's Work, Sex, Money that there is an old Tibetan saying that it is better not to start something - but if you do, finish it.  So I am finished here for now.  Maybe I'll call a friend and talk, and not drive or mess with Angry Birds or dust my windowsills or anything else, just sit there comfortably talking, like we did in - you know what I'm going to say - in the old days.


  1. Hallelujah! Someone who thinks the way I do.

    From a delighted reader.

  2. A trip to the grocery store is becoming just far too overwhelming for me. You spend eternity trying to find the original products that worked quite well. Especially when you have to stop to put on your bifocals, lol.