So, I had a thought the other day.
It occurred to me that many of the things we do because we think they are "convenient" really aren't convenient at all, they're simply the ways we're used to doing things.
Take driving a car, for example. There was a time in my life when I was pretty much like the average American in terms of driving. Well, I never had one of those crazy commutes that so many people deal with, but I certainly used my car as my default mode of transportation. I thought, like most people do, that driving was the easiest and most convenient way to get around.
But the further removed I become from "car culture" the more inconvenient my automobile starts to feel.
I mean when you really stop to think about it, there's a HUGE list of prerequisites that are required in order to be able to just jump in the car for a "convenient" little trip.
First of all, you have to have a car - which means you had to either save up a pile of money or make monthly payments on a car loan. Then, you have to have insurance, and (in Denver, at least) a valid emissions test. You have to make sure the thing has gas, and oil, and a charged battery, and tires with decent tread, and is in generally good condition. You have to have a driver's license, and a valid registration. And we haven't even set foot in the car yet!
Once you get in the thing, you have to deal with traffic, and parking, and figuring out where you're going and how to get there. You have to know which lane to be in, you have to deal with distracted drivers and road construction. The list goes on...
I realize this sounds sorta crazy, but I've been sooo happy that the weather and streets have cleared up to the point that I can ride my bike to the store again, because frankly... it's just so much more convenient!! I don't have to worry about gas, or parking, or having my license with me... I just have to hop on my bike and go! Of course, I've already invested the time, energy and money into setting up a nice errand bike, and figuring out appropriate clothing, and maintenance - yadda, yadda, yadda.
I'm reminded of a post over on Done By Forty about "Sunk Costs." The idea is that a "sunk cost" is money, time, and/or energy that you've already spent, so it doesn't figure into your current decision making.
It's like we're all so programmed to think that having a car (and all the time, energy & money that goes along with it) is "a given" so we don't consider it when we think about what's "convenient" and what isn't.
Of course, this whole equation works both ways. For example, CatMan is what I would call an "uber geek."
Seriously, the man built his first computer in the 1970's by wiring together a television, an electric typewriter keyboard, some chips he ordered for about $25, and a circuit board that he burned by hand using a drawing he found in a magazine as a guide. (Not exaggerating.)
So whenever there's some sort of informational task that needs to take place, his first instinct is to write a computer program to automate the job.
Me, on the other hand... even though I've done my fair share of programming, it always feels like "work" to me. So I've been known to spend hour upon hour upon hour doing something "by hand" rather than invest a little bit of time coming up with a system that will deal with it for me.
My inbox situation comes to mind. It always seemed "more convenient" to just leave all my emails in the inbox and perform a search when I needed to find something. But now that I actually took the time to set up a system to deal with most of it for me, everything feels much, MUCH easier. Hmmm... perhaps my old system was not so convenient after all.
I'm not sure what conclusions to draw from all of this. I'm certainly not suggesting that everyone should ditch their cars, since I'm still not ready to get rid of mine. But this whole thing has got me wondering, what other parts of my life do I coast through, thinking I'm doing what's convenient, when all I'm really doing is what's familiar?
Waddya think? Is this all just semantics or am I actually onto something? Do you ever find yourself doing what's familiar when there's really an easier way that just involves getting out of your comfort zone a bit?