Posted on October 19th, 2011
A few years ago I was wandering through my local bookstore. This is a favorite past-time of mine.
I think everyone has the same procedure. You grab a coffee, select a few obscure books that may be of interest, and then pick a seat in the cafe. Next, you initiate the modern social display, randomly flipping through the pages as you sip the double mocha caramel frappalatte and make yourself seem as intelligent and appealing as possible to other aspiring pseudo-intellectuals.
Hey, it’s fun. I’m right there with you.
My local store is just like any other. You have to pass through a few book displays before getting back into the main sections. This where they keep the latest celebrity chef memoir, mad political pundit ramblings, or teenage vampire love stories. A trap for the average American mouth breather.
But this store is pretty unique in that they have a display set up for odd and borderline offensive titles. Generally, all the new stuff about sex, drugs, or zombie literature can be found here.
As I passed through this day, I couldn’t help but be drawn to a particular book by Steven Lowe, entitled Is It Just Me or Is Everything Shit?: Insanely Annoying Modern Things. As you may imagine, this book is a humorous attempt at assailing all the frustrating bits of modern life, in alphabetical order no less, starting at abstinence programs, ads for credit cards, and adventurers/mountaineers. All in all it’s not a bad read.
But what is interesting, of course, is that this really isn’t a joke. Most things are indeed shit. Are you a true music aficionado? Well, it’s certainly no surprise to you that just about all modern popular music is really bad. Just look here for a particularly sobering list of facts. Be prepared to be sad. Knowing a little something of music, I know I am.
I also know a thing or two about health, fitness, and human performance. And I can assure you that just about every training program, exercise gadget, supplement, diet fad, etc. are crap. You have to do a bit of research and get lots of experience before you find quality. Here’s a hint. If you find something completely obvious, intuitive, elegant, sexy, and relatively inexpensive, you’re on the right track!
The same sad observation holds true for political news punditry, restaurants, Sharper Image products, magazine content, cat food brands…It’s just staggering.
This is nothing new.
In the 1950’s, Science Fiction writer Theodore Sturgeon responded to criticism that his genre of work was generally low quality literature. He simply stated that the majority of all art, regardless of field, can be considered low quality. Science Fiction was not any different than English Literature, Poetry, or Pulp Fiction. Most writing is just bad. This observation is now referred to as Sturgeon’s law, where ninety percent of everything should be considered crud.
It’s easy to be a little pessimistic about it all. What if everything really is that bad? Dude, that’s kinda depressing, no?
I don’t think so. I’d much rather look at it as empowering.
When you know a little something about the content, it’s easy to make a great decision, purchase or investment. For instance, Mechanics do not worry about buying lemons. They have years and years of experience backing up their car purchase.
No, the real problem is when you are not an expert. When you do not have the vital experience or knowledge to tell you when you are being lied to. That’s when you can wield Sturgeons law like a mighty sword.
Right up front, look at all your options. Every brand of food. Every training program offered. Every TV, phone, espresso machine, so called friend, business opportunity, vibrator, pizza cutter…Look at them all. Know up front that 90% are shit.
Drill down to that 10%. Take a close look at the ingredients. The features. The history. What are you really being offered? Where are the proven results? The reviews? Do you know anyone who owns one of these things? Do they love it? Have they used, licked, and abused the thing? Can they vouch for it?
Don’t spend your hard earned money on something that doesn’t inspire or delight you in some way. Don’t waste your time with things, people, or opportunities that are really ineffective, flake, and bogus.
In my mind, this is the epitome of an ideal Capitalist attitude. Let every dollar you spend, decision you make, and opinion you share be an educated and deliberate act.
Make it count!