Sunday, July 23, 2006

It was hard...so I quit.

I’ve been noticing something for a while now, and it’s really starting to bother me.

As you know, I’m the man of a million hobbies. Name any hobby, from stamp collecting to wood carving to model making, I’ve almost definitely had some experience of it. Of course, my ‘experience’ might be that I was really interested in it for a week, then gave it up forever…but I never said I had a long attention span.

No, the thing that bothers me is people’s attitudes. Every time I get into a new hobby and start looking around the internet for information about it, it brings me into contact with people and most of them have the same attitude.

“This is too hard, That’s too difficult, so I’m not going to do it.”

In other words, if it’s hard, I don’t want to bother.

My latest exposure to this was in a forum. I wanted some hints and tutorials on digital coloring (That is, coloring and shading in photoshop), when the same replies kept popping up. “Oh, I tried that once, it was really tough, so I didn’t bother with it.”

Now this may seem like a little thing to get miffed about, but this attitude is becoming prevalent in daily life. When we do something new, we want to be very good at it right away, or we’re not going to bother. If something isn’t easy, it’s just not worth the hassle.

This is why I flat out refuse to show most people how to do things on the computer. Because I know that five minutes in their eyes are going to glaze over and they’re not going to listen to a single word I have to say.

On the one hand, this is annoying, but I can understand it. I once explained the premise of a video game to Sunny and she was interested. When I put it on and started to show her the controls, within five minutes she’d given up and went to find something else to do.

This I can understand, because video games just aren’t the important to Sunny. Even though I know if she persevered for a little while she’d get it and enjoy it…it would be like her showing me the intricacies of interior design. Why learn something I have no interest in?

On the other hand, I find this disturbing.

People just don’t seem to want to put in the effort to learn anything anymore. While this might not seem like a big deal, if I hadn’t put the effort in to learn about computers, my recent computer adventure (scroll down to read it) wouldn’t have just been a few frustrating hours…the computer would have been completely out of commission for a few months until I could afford to pay someone to fix it for me.

I’ve started to wonder what the world would be like if our great thinkers had this attitude. Cars would still be pulled by horses, Mount Rushmore would simply be three smiley faces painted on the side of a mountain and we’d still be attempting to fly by taping bits of wood to our arms and flapping them really hard.

I wish people would just realize that their lives would be a lot fuller if they would be willing to put the time in to learn the things they want to do. People have heard me playing guitar and said “Oh, I wish I could play the guitar!” So I’ve said. “I’ve got a spare, come over tomorrow and I’ll teach you.”

Then, suddenly the enthusiasm stops, the excuses start and I never hear the word ‘Guitar come out of their mouths again. After all, what’s the point in playing guitar if you can’t channel the ghost of Hendrix right now?

I once saw a documentary on TV about children and reading, and it made a lot of sense to me. Basically, the idea they put across is that no kid wants to sit down with a book and put in the effort to read, when they can slap in a DVD and get a story with no effort whatsoever.

The other big point was that the other reason kids are reading less is that they don’t understand that it will get any easier. Basically, kids think that from now until the day they die, they will always have to sound out the words, get help on the longer ones and generally stuggle.

I suppose my point here is that today’s adults probably have the same delusions. If they try something and it’s hard, it will always be hard.

Personally, I love to learn and the harder something is starting out, the more I like it, because I know I’ll feel all that much better when I’ve mastered it.

This is also why I get angry when I hear people complaining about today’s standard technology. The fact that they don’t understand just how difficult it is to make something work makes them completely unappreciative of it.

For example, I’m typing this blog in my living room. When I’m done, I’ll click a link and it’ll publish. Then people anywhere in the world can access it. That means that by just typing a web address, electrical impulses will race across trillions of miles of wires, probably across thousands of miles, locate the right machine among billions, then tell that machine to send another particular series of electrical impulses back through that labyrinth where your computer can interpret them into this blog.

That whole process will take seconds, no matter where you are in the world…and then people will complain that the page loaded slowly.

If you think about it, it’s like someone inventing an interstellar spaceship, capable of traveling billions of miles in the blink of an eye, and then the astronauts complaining because they can’t just get in it and press a big green button marked ‘go’.

(Deep Breath…)

Ok, rant over.

3 comments:

Miz S said...

Well, in my opinion, life is hard enough to deal with without adding stress to it by taking on more things that are difficult. No matter how "rewarding" mastering it might be.

I'll wait til life is a bit LESs stressful to master things like that.

But thanks for offering.
;-)

mistyforeverlost said...

I understand the "no interest" part...I glaze over and start wondering if the fridge needs a scrubbing when husband tries to explain VG's. The rest is becuase too many parents have allowed thier children to quit too many activities because it turned out "harder" then the child expected. It's one thing if the child truely does not like it, it's another to let them quit just because it takes a bit of work.

MC Etcher said...

There's a definite difference between "Challenging and fun" and "Incredibly difficult to teach yourself".

Unfortunately, most of the best hobbies fall into the second category - like learning to play a musical instrument (for me at least).