Unfortunately, today I do not have any great inspiration for writing a story (although I do have a great concept of a rusting robot walking around post-apocalyptic Earth floating in the back of my mind, although the idea hasn’t solidified into a working plot yet), so I am instead going to rant. Feel free to ignore this, and check back in another two days for, hopefully, a wonderful little short tale instead.
One of the biggest disappointments that I have found so far in life is this: I wish for things, because I believe they will make my life easier. In my experience, however, this is completely and categorically untrue.
Perhaps this would be more accurate if it was rephrased: I wish for things, because I believe they will make my life different in a way I prefer to its current state.
Are you lost yet? I am, after reading those last couple sentences, and I’m the one who’s writing them. Let me explain a little.
Often, especially on the Internet, I see people complaining that they don’t have a boyfriend/girlfriend/pansexual lover/empathizing robot. These people earnestly believe that their lives would be easier if they could find a significant other.
This is untrue.
Having a significant other does not make life easier; if anything, it makes things harder, because now you are being forced to consider someone else’s feelings as well as your own. (If you aren’t considering the other person’s feelings, by the way, this may be a clue into why you are alone right now.) You might not have to deal with feeling lonely on Friday nights any longer, but now you have to plan evenings out, pay the bill for multiple people, come up with witty banter, raise yourself to a minimal level of physical attractiveness, shower more often, and overall put a lot more exertion into your social life than was necessary when you were single and lonely. Life hasn’t gotten any easier.
On the other hand, has life gotten better? This could be true, since “better” is an entirely subjective term. If a warm body in bed next to you has a greater intrinsic value than the stress of planning “date nights”, then yes, your life is better off. If that stress is making your heart fail and giving you panic attacks, then gaining a significant other didn’t make you any better off; in fact, it made you worse off. That’s a devil’s bargain, right there.
Still not with me yet? Here’s another example. Many people wish that they were rich. “If only I had a million dollars, all my problems would be solved!” they proclaim dramatically.
Once again, say it with me, not true.
Sure, a huge payday will solve a lot of problems (pay off credit cards, student loans, rent payments, eat at fancy restaurants, full tanks of gas, repaired car, etc.). But that fat bank account brings a whole new host of problems, as well. Do you know how to invest your money? Will you keep your job? Will that money last until your retirement? How will your lifestyle change, and can you afford the changes, even with the increased income? Are newfound friends only after you for your money? Is that cute girl just a gold digger? Life has changed, in new and exciting ways, but it certainly hasn’t gotten any easier.
Dishwashers were introduced to make life easier, to save time on having to hand-wash dishes. I know some people, however, who are so frustrated with loading, unloading, and running the dishwasher that they still prefer to clean by hand. That dishwasher solved one problem, but added five more, to the point where it didn’t make their lives any better.
Cars let us get around much faster than horses or walking. But they are smelly, pollute the environment, require us to find parking spaces, drain our bank accounts through their guzzling of gasoline, and have an unfortunate tendency to break down just when they are most needed. They are not making our lives easier. Different, and possibly better, but not easier.
For this reason, I have come to treat “easy solutions” with a very healthy measure of distrust. If something makes a blase promise to make my life easier, my BS detectors go off, and I look very carefully before continuing. There might be a free lunch out there, somewhere, but I’m sure it will exact its price somewhere in the digestive process.