Hacked off

lifehackApparently, I’ve been shelling pistachios wrongly all my life.

There’s an awful lot of other simple skills that I lack too, if the accumulated knowhow of a variety of self-styled internet gurus is to be believed. Such diverse pursuits as enjoying a bag of crisps, drinking from a can with a straw, peeling fruit, curing squeaky hinges and eating spaghetti, all fall into the ‘fail’ category of things that I’ve been doing incorrectly since time immemorial.

If that wasn’t bad enough, it appears that there are a whole host of simple things I could have been doing to simplify my life, using such everyday objects as paper clips, lipstick, elastic bands and balloons… I dread to think just how much of my time and energy I’ve wasted by taking the difficult option, and how much easier my day to day activities could have been.

Alternatively, I could also come to the conclusion that the abundance of ‘life hacks’ doled out by well-meaning, but deluded, YouTubers are in fact mostly crap!

I’m a great believer in hints and tips for making life easier, whether in the kitchen, when driving, working or in the realm of technology, but I have to question people’s sanity when they feel that the world at large needs to know a new and ‘simple’ method for changing a duvet cover, or how to make a miniature blowtorch from a cigarette lighter. And what’s worse, after you’ve sat through ’10 incredible life hacks using a toothbrush’, ‘7 ways to save time using a pencil’ and ’10 hidden hacks you never knew about your TV remote’ – that’s 30 minutes of your life wasted, rather than time saved, and you end up feeling annoyed, frustrated and ever so slightly soiled and tarnished in much the same way you might feel after suffering somebody’s armpit at face level whilst standing during a crowded train journey.

I have lots of my own life hacks that work really well for me… If I’ve an early start, I prepare my coffee the night before, so I just have to heat the water and pour; I put my recycling box inside my wheelie bin so that I can put out the rubbish in a single trip; and I collect my rail tickets on the journey home so I don’t have to queue for them the following morning – but nobody ever told me to do these things, I worked them out all by myself and that’s pretty much how I expect other people to function too.

I apply the same principle to SL, where there is plenty of scope for finding short cuts, tweaks and hacks that make virtual life more enjoyable, simple and straightforward, whether it’s a case of the best way to organise an inventory or quick fixes for viewer problems. It goes without saying that I’m more than happy to share my own knowledge of these little snippets of inside information if I’m asked, or where it would be churlish not to, but I’m also firmly off the opinion that there’s nothing wrong with having to find out these things for yourself rather than being handed it on a plate, and that part of the fun of SL is discovering and learning how to solve problems and improve the inworld experience off your own back.

ashemi_009One of the major ‘selling points’ of SL is its freeform nature – its an environment that’s highly conducive to learning, discovery and developing problem solving techniques. In the real world, we’d call these ‘life skills’, and they are very much the sort of thing we have to develop on our own, although sometimes with a little support, encouragement and the occasional steer in the right direction from our friends. They lose their value, however, if we are not left to learn them by ourselves. We need to do this to develop critical thinking, decisiveness, and analytical skills, and along the way we build our world view and our place within it. Those are not the sort of things that some plonker on YouTube can equip us with through the expedient of spoon feeding us their own – or more likely, recycled from another YouTube guru – wisdom on how to prepare a mango for consumption using a soup spoon and potato peeler!

By removing any motivation for learning or development, those who would seek to illuminate us in the ways of living a better life are, in fact, depriving us of that most rewarding of experiences – self improvement, the pursuit of knowledge and the joy of discovery. I would never want to feel that I had prevented anyone from discovering those same achievements in the virtual world any more than I would in RL, and so I’d encourage anyone who finds SL a challenge, rather than seeking easy solutions, why not rise to the challenge instead and find the answers your own way instead of simply turning to the knowledge of others as your first port of call… I’m sure your virtual life will be the better for it, and I’m certain that the knowledge and understanding you gain will mean far more to you than any second hand hints and tips ever would.

s. x

When we all give the power
We all give the best
Every minute of an hour
Don’t think about a rest
Then you all get the power
You all get the best
Opus – Live Is Life

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