In this modern technological world it seems we love to invent solutions to problems; problems that for many years had remained somehow hidden, unnoticed, unappreciated. Someone then says, “Here’s a cool solution to a real problem.” Suddenly we all want the solution. Even though we hadn’t ever struggled with the problem.
How many of us have a computer, a laptop, a tablet, a phone, maybe a mini tablet and now also use our TV to access the internet? I don’t recall the day I said, “What I need are six devices at my fingertips from which I can do largely the same things.” Indeed, things that twenty years earlier I couldn’t do at all and didn’t know I wanted to.
The other day I was introduced to Samsung ad wash – add more clothes part way through the wash. There was a time when we sorted the clothes, put them all in the wash and got on with life. If something had missed the wash, it waited to next time. Now we have a solution to the ‘problem’.
For many years I have had hatchback cars. It has proved to be little trouble opening the rear door; they have always been assisted with hydraulic struts, so you simply squeeze the handle, lift slightly and the tailgate lifts open. Closing was straightforward too. Reach up, pull down with a little tug and the door falls, slamming shut using that age old invention called gravity. But now, my car has an automatic boot opening and closing gizmo. I can press a button in the car, or on the key fob, and the rear tailgate lifts by itself. When I’m ready to close it, I press another button and it silently lowers and clicks shut.
It seems we have learned as a species to direct our talents to ‘stuff’. To improving ‘stuff’. We are now approaching a time in many areas, where improving ‘stuff’ is getting harder to warrant, so we’re fabricating ‘stuff’ solutions to once only imagined ‘stuff’ problems. But we stay stuck on the treadmill that is improving ‘stuff’. We know where we are with improving ‘stuff’. We’re good at it. It pleases us.
Meanwhile improving ‘us’ takes the back seat. ‘Us’ problems are real. ‘Us’ problems are there in our existence as individuals and there in our interactions and relationships. ‘Us’ problems cloud our thinking. ‘Us’ problems stop us maximising our potential. Our very humanity, our happiness, our fulfilment is stifled by ‘us’ problems. Yet we seem to struggle with ‘us’ solutions to our ‘us’ problems. We’re not good at it. It scares us.
Maybe we need a ‘stuff’ solution to the ‘us’ problem? Or is that stuff and nonsense?