Feature Creep

Does your life ever feel like it has too many conveniences, too much automation, too many apps to get your organized, too many reminders to get you in line, too many notes to push you in the right direction; too many updates to keep you in the loop? Does anyone wish we could just unplug from all of it? That’s a nice idea, isn’t it? Just quit. Walk out. Refuse to interact with the modern world. Yeah, go ahead.

How’s that working? Yeah, I didn’t think so.

So what do we do? Stay connected, stay organized, stay modern. Ugh. I should just throw my computer out on the curb, give my phone to a stranger, and go off the grid. But it’s supposed to be hot this week. Also, I would have to write checks or deal in cash. I’d be running all over the place just to pay my bills, and that doesn’t really go along with my shut-up-in-the-house routine. Okay, so I have to at least have internet connection; but do I need a desktop, a laptop, a cell phone, a tablet, and a Kindle? Well of course I don’t need them. I just have them now. “Waste not,” they say. I’m privileged to have this stuff, but I’m not grateful to have it. I’m not happy because I have it. And I don’t feel better for admitting it, so maybe I should just get rid of everything.

But no matter how many little odds and ends I give away, throw away, scale-back, and downsize, somehow I still have more than I need. Here’s the impossible part: I hate to shop! So were is all this stuff coming from?? I’ve reluctantly brought all of this stuff home, apparently, and now I’m spending all this time trying getting rid of it. That’s not just crazy, that’s some kind of sick.

I won’t bother forming some kind of policy about what I will and will not buy. I’ve already proved I lack the discipline for that approach.

Here’s a tangent: According to Wikipedia, “feature creep” is defined as the ongoing expansion or addition of new features in a product. Extra features go beyond the basic function of the product and so can result in over-complication rather than simple design. (Emphasis mine.)

I think I originally learned about it in microeconomics. It made enough sense when we were talking about digital cameras; but the application to the modern life, in general, has always stuck with me. Consumers of life are most happy with the product when it does what it was meant to do and doesn’t over-complicate things with additional features.

Without going into an existential rant, why don’t we just start with the basics? I need to eat. I need to sleep. I need to feel wanted. I need to contribute.

Here’s another tangent: I went to see The Hundred-Foot Journey yesterday. People’s passion for food and cooking is completely fascinating to me. It was a cute story, but when someone at the guy’s kitchen fed him a home-cooked snack and he started crying, remembering home, I lost it. From a simple gesture, the hero was taken back to his roots. Why was I such a sap watching people eat?

Maybe I need more roots and fewer flowers right now.

Why I’ll Never Be An Artist

Everyone in my department took the True Colors Personality Test awhile back. Most everyone was dominantly one color or another, but a few had an even mix of two. Being the overachiever that I am, I turned out to be equally Gold (the responsible, rule-follower), Orange (the spontaneous, fun-lover), and Green (the conceptual innovator). Not surprisingly, my Blue (the compassionate, relationship-oriented) score was low. Who has time with all the rule-following, and fun-loving, and innovation? Still, like so many other personality tests, I didn’t quite seem to fit any particular mold. I’d like to say it’s because I’m so well-rounded (wouldn’t that be nice?) but I think it has something more to do with a piece of me I don’t often acknowledge. What if I’m an artist?

In my mind, most artists are just barely getting by in the world, so I never aspired to pursue a career around my fondness for music or writing. The more I look at my life, though, the more artist-type behavior I see. I strive to create wherever I go. I’m proud of the work I accomplish even if I’m the only one that can appreciate its complexity and intelligence. I change my mind about my goals and my resources constantly, depending on how I’m feeling. It takes a lot to impress me. It takes even more to convince me. I can be as easy-going as a leaf on the wind, and as stubborn as mule.

I’m sure there’s some DSM-IV diagnosis someone could slap on my personality, but let’s go with “artist” for argument’s sake.

Well, that’s no good. As I’ve already said, they’re broke! Being the responsible sort, I like to pay my bills on time. Also, artists are flaky! Okay, I can be flaky, but maybe I don’t want be… Nah, my fun-loving side needs time to play; sometimes that means canceling plans. Okay, but here’s one I really can’t live with: Artists are required to be an open book, laid bare for all the world. If they don’t turn themselves inside out, their art will never exist. If they do, they’re vulnerable to a world of judgement and criticism and ridicule. Why would I subject myself to that? Who needs that kind of hate?

I guess no one needs to be hated, which is why artists create for their admirers, not for their panel of judges. One cruel comment, though, can destroy an entire creative train of thought; so be kind to the artists in your life. I’m still considering whether or not I’ll join their ranks.