Our Society’s Obsession with Simple

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

I’m a skeptical person. If someone tells me that moon dust will cure my allergies, I’ll be hopeful but will wait for the data.

I’m also trained in media analysis so every once in a while I’ll see something that makes me wonder why. Today I saw a Lays truck that was designed to look like an old fashioned potato truck.

It’s a common technic in advertising. It gives the viewer an association with something classic, natural, simple, and/or unprocessed. It’s the reason McDonalds runs ads about their eggs being local and toilet paper almost always has a nature theme. It’s the reason JenEric Coffee uses craft bags for packaging.

But why? Why are we so obsessed with what is natural and simple?

Despite the amazing increases in life expectancy and quality, people still have fantasies about the “good old days.” It’s definitely not a new thing; the Romantics worshiped the medieval period and wanted a return to nature. The classicist wanted the same with the classic period, etc.

In my opinion, it’s a combination of fear of change, nostalgia, and impotence.

We are afraid of change as people; I get really angry when my favourite shampoo is changed or unavailable. We like things the way we do and we don’t like losing control of the change.

Nostalgia paints everything in a wonderful light. Just take the paleo diet as an example. It’s the healthiest way to eat… unless you remember that they died at an age younger than most of us graduate high school. It’s also what makes re-watching certain movies and tv shows so painful or why people love to hate reboots.

There is a special kind of feeling that comes from not being able to work a new piece of technology. It gets worse if you try to understand exactly how it works. Most of us are specialized in our fields and don’t have the energy or ability to be experts in everything. That leaves us feeling impotent.

 

When you next see something and your gut reaction is to reject it because it’s too complex, processed, or confusing, take a moment to wonder why you feel like that and then decide if you’re being reasonable. Not all simple things are good, not all complex things are good.

If you are aware of your bias, you can start to watch for people who prey on your fears for their own gain.

 

Later days,

Éric

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