Addicted to comfort
This morning, I got an email from Indiegogo. It’s their regularly scheduled email filled with the latest and greatest campaigns people are raising money for. As I scrolled down the list of fabulous gadgets, I was reminded that people have become addicted to comfort.
The first item I noticed was a key chain.
As its Indiegogo page indicates, it is a “slim, elegant, tension adjustable key organiser that transforms your keys into a neat and organised stack.” It costs $25 for the cheapest version. It holds 2-7 keys, which isn’t a lot. If you only have 2-7 keys, any old key chain will probably hold them fine. Is that tiny extra bit of organization worth $25?
And, as if that isn’t bad enough, let’s say you bought the first round version of this a few years ago. Would you trash the old version in favor of this newer version that shaves off a whopping .95 mm from the design? 1 mm. Some people will buy the new version for another $25 just because they’ve made it 1 mm shorter. Thinking that an extra 1 mm of space in your purse or wallet will improve your life is an addiction to (the perceived notion of) comfort and convenience. This item is 2763% funded. They’ve raised half a million dollars.
It’s like with TV’s. Everyone is trying to get the latest and greatest TV because it will improve their happiness to see things in ever-increasing resolutions. “Oh, I have a 4K TV.” I have a 4K TV, too. It’s called “going outdoors.” I don’t need virtual reality because I have actual reality, and I’m surely not willing to pay extra for my TV to resemble real life. (Disclaimer: I don’t own a TV at all, and I’m happy as pie. I do occasionally watch Hulu or Netflix… mostly on my phone.)
More comfort, better life?
I used to try to buy my way into a better life. “Time saving” devices have been the rage since the 50’s introduced TV dinners and microwaves. But the cost (financially and psychically) of many of the products on the market today often outweigh any perceived value. Often, after we buy the product, we realize that it’s too difficult to incorporate into our lives or we just liked the old way better. (We usually realize this after the return period has expired.)
I remember buying a “handheld PC” in the 90’s because I thought it was going to make me so much more productive. A terrible waste of hundreds of dollars. It was more expedient to carry around a small pad and pen than to drag that monster out and try to do something productive on it.
A whole “As Seen on TV” industry was created to entice people into buying devices like salad shooters, popcorn buttering devices, electric knives, foot washers, pet toenail sanders, toilet bowl nightlights and microwave bacon cookers.
And a strawberry slicer. Did you know that’s a thing?
I wouldn’t be surprised if the housing industry was in on this proliferation because, as you can imagine, once you amass all these single use devices, you’re going to need somewhere to store them.
One of the biggest issues with chasing comfort is that life is unpredictable. There will be discomfort. If you program yourself to need all these accouterments in order to be happy and comfortable, you are some day going to be in for a pretty big shock. Mother Nature is throwing an increasing amount of discomfort our way, not all of which we will be able to handle. Consumerism will not and cannot go on like this, and there will come a time when you are unable to continue to support your comfort habit. And you will have become, as they say, a wimp.
A better strategy would be to see how FEW things you need in order to be happy. That is where the real magic happens. I’m not talking about giving up everything you own and living in a cardboard box. I’m talking about discontinuing the cycle of “I need this to be comfortable.” Because there will always be a new thing on the market trying to convince you that you could use a few extra minutes or something more convenient than what you currently have.
Get comfortable with what you have and get creative about things you need. Work on your comfort addiction. Sometimes it’s OK not to see people’s pores on your television or not to hear music as if the band was playing in your ears. Why? Because you need a reason to go out into the world and to hear real, live music. And guess what, you don’t need a strawberry slicer. Just use a damn knife!