As I’ve lived my life I have become more convinced that the entirety of human endeavour is in no way altruistic, mystical, religious, noble, righteous, “a journey” or any other such nonsense.
Humanity is quite simply the pursuit of shiny objects.
I’ve touched on the “shiny” phenomenon in previous posts and I am by no means the first to suggest this. You don’t have to watch too much comedy to spot references to this phenomenon. Google it and see what I mean.
Sure we may get distracted along the way by non-shiny things. We may choose to get a job, have kids, travel or whatever. But the distraction from the main distraction doesn’t last long.
All humans want is to touch and own shiny objects. I am pretty sure it is hard-wired into our brains right alongside breathing, pumping blood, sex and sleeping.
Evil boffins are well known for exploiting our weakness in this area. Apple is probably the evilest and smartest of the boffins. Surely you don’t need me to elaborate on that point? Car manufacturers are arguably in second place.
Quite some years ago I read an article by a marketing person in an industry dominated by shiny things. This person said, while observing passers-by at a trade show displaying their latest innovation, “We knew we had a winner because everyone that saw it wanted to touch it.”
So my assumption is that we are motivated by something visceral rather than pragmatic. That’s OK. There’s not much we can do about it. Most humans assume they are better than that though.
When our technology fails us, and we need to replace it, the shiny beast is hard to control.
Chances are the thing you are replacing can’t be replaced with one exactly the same. There’s usually a new model, new competitor, a new version and, worse still, even if a replacement is available you may have decided you don’t want that type of thing anymore.
I often have conversations with my clients about their upcoming technology purchases and it still surprises me how often an outsider’s perspective can reveal the need behind the shininess and the pragmatics behind the emotion.
At the moment I am reading a book called “The Power of an Hour” by Dave Lakhani. One of the early chapters is about critical thinking. It is essentially about stripping away the bullshit you are presented in the form of “facts” and doing some assessment of the data and the likelihood of it being accurate enough for your purposes. To control the shiny beast you need critical thinking.
Recently, a friend’s laptop failed. We had several conversations both before and during the purchase process. He was keen to jump platforms. The problem I saw, and he’d previously communicated to me, was that he doesn’t like change. Sadly, due to the age of the failed laptop, he didn’t have much choice but to embrace a change in operating system no matter where he went. We also talked about how he worked, what he does and what he needs and wants to do with the machine in the next two years (because that is how long the new device will most likely last). And, of course, we spoke about dollars. The resulting purchase was something neither of us had considered but entirely appropriate for the tool that it needed to be.
I’m the last person to label myself the voice of sanity. Sanity is quite dull. In this case, I was a voice of delay and consideration. They, too, sound dull, but they save money and prevent frustration.
Do you have access to such a voice be it internal or external?
Jumping fast at shiny objects can be costly and painful. Just ask my cat.