I seem to have this same thought every year around the time a new iPhone is announced. I guess it's the best representation of it. The thought is this: do we need this? Do we need a brand new alternative to something we have that works? Sure, it's better, faster, and stronger, but do I need it? Five and ten year old tools are more than sufficient for 90% of most tasks. Marketing the new is easier than trying to sell upkeep for what you already have. I guess that's business though…
Take a Break
Everything is coming so fast we don't even have time to enjoy these new things that come out, and once you get this new thing, we don't have time to enjoy it and learn how to use it to it's fullest, before the next one comes out. We're on this cycle that is imposed upon us. It makes you think, "what if we all just took a year off and nobody made anything new, no one created the desire for something new to exist?" We all just maintained and repaired everything that needed fixing? Well, we can. Appreciate what we have, learn how to use it to its fullest, and fix, repair, maintain, until it does what we want it to. A lot of what we already have can do what we want it to do, we just have to take the time to learn how to use it and maintain it well. Then we can assess if something does need to be replaced or not.
Apply this to all areas of our life, not just objects. Why scroll for some new knowledge/information, when we have a stockpile of information to go through? That stack of books gathering dust, that topic that's always been interesting to you; it hasn't changed since it first appealed to you. Another mistress has just caught your eye that seems more fulfilling. I'm not saying to discredit anything new, there is value in things that replace problems. But, how much more could we accomplish if we weren't waiting for a new replacement to all of our problems?
I think if more of us had the mindset that what we create will last longer than we think, we would make sure things are done properly. We would make things for other people, other people we will not ever meet because they will be taught by our children.
Take Some Time
So what do we do about this cycle imposed upon us? We could not feed it. Aside from the algorithms that need new data, is something more valuable just because it's new or first? I want to take time to find context for things. Context isn't always immediately apparent. Someone will say something that rattles something else loose in your brain from months ago that you forgot you tweeted, I mean, learned. This may sound like a burden, to hold and maintain everything we own and learn. But I think of it like a parking lot. The fastest way to arrive at a destination is just park as close as physically possible and abandon your car where it may stop. If everyone did this, cars would become disposable; you wouldn't be able to ever leave anywhere. But, with just a little extra effort and time, we can arrange a vast number of people's cars together and everyone can come and go as we please. Do the same with newness in our lives. Take a little extra time and effort to find some context, and determine if something is needed, or just new.
So take a little time. Take a little time to consider if you should park something. Consider if that new thing that has come across your path is worth adopting or if you have enough already.
- Let'/s Get Excited About Maintenance! (NYT) – Kind of the kickstart for this post. A good reminder that there is more old than new in this world.
- 'Jerry's Brain' (The Online Version) Has Been Going Strong for 20 Years (NPR) – A look at the tail end of the bell curve on giving things context.
- This post, visually (Dribbble) – Great art showcasing what we all know.