Complexity to ConvenienceĀ 

Day 228 Week 33 Q3 Thursday, August 17, 2023

As life continues to accelerate in part due to the democratization of technology, it seems that much of society has coped by redefining quality as convenience. The days of diminishing return levels of effort are numbered. People do not seem to want to invest vast amounts of effort for small gains any longer. This includes doing homework, practicing anything at all and taking the time to do a deep dive on very many things.

The expectation of instant gratification fanned into flames by television, where everything is easy and nothing is hard, now dominates what people think is reality. It is clearly not; you do not become world-class at anything without enormous amounts of effort in the thousands of intentional patient and focused hours.

To become a plumber, electrician, writer, surgeon, musician, or anything else you can name takes a lot of time. To expect measurable progress in a half hour is just not rational or realistic.  We have a tendency to attempt to reduce complexity to simplicity on the near side of effort with quick fixes and bandaids. Sure, we desire simplicity as the world is becoming increasingly complex. Still, the simplicity you get from instant gratification instead of delayed gratification has a short half-life. Most of it will not survive the decade you are living in.

There used to be people who read photography magazines, stereo magazines, music magazines and computer magazines to try to extract a deep understanding of these topics. And before the magazines, there were books that took even longer to read, write, and publish.  Now the expectation is you can know what is going on with a two to five-minute video, and to some extent, you can, but only conceptually. The actual act of fixing a sink, a deck, or a car takes a great deal longer than the video explanation, and then when we try these things, we are constantly surprised by this. There is a great tendency to underestimate how long things take and how much effort, skill and money are required to make anything happen.

If you try to deal with the modern complexity of life by redefining quality as convenience, you risk never experiencing quality at all. On the other hand, if you would like to express your insights in a manner that is too complex and requires much time to understand, you will likely never be understood. For the attention span of the world is constantly shrinking. Therefore we all must acknowledge the need for instant gratification as things are today. If someone asks you a short question and you deliver a long but more comprehensive answer, there is a good chance no one will still pay attention by the time you finish.

 Take a lesson from the PR world. If you write a press release, assume you have to make the point in the first paragraph because people will not read the second one unless they are engaged by the first one.