PS Consultants - ideas & solutions

Convenience thinking
September 2000

Readers of this monthly cerebral treat will hopefully have gained the impression that this page is keen to call a spade a spade, especially in a world where definitions of once simple every day objects, functions and people continue to head towards the increasingly bizarre. So in the interests of political correction, and to avoid the possible misconstruction of the aforementioned ambiguous "spade", might I therefore please stress that I am of course referring to a simple agricultural implement for the purpose of excavating small volumes of soil under manual control.

We live in an age when normally sane people avoid using the phone that's tethered to the wall that costs miserable penny a minute, for the dubious privilege of paying anything up to twenty times as much, and frying their (apparently all too modest) brains at the same time. Precisely the same sort of people consistently seem to ignore the news that taking out a simple subscription to any one of a zillion long distance phone carriers will save them a fortune compared to regular BT prices.

These same normally sane people pay huge membership fees to things called health clubs, and then pay more still to walk on electric tread mills. And then cycle on machines with TVs attached do that they can enjoy the sights and sounds of the countryside whilst tethered in some air-condition gymnasium.

These same normally sane people wring their hands in angst at the prospect of global warming, and go the lengths to try and buy cars that seek to attract their attention with claims of superior energy efficiency. The notion that they might walk or cycle in a manner that actually takes them from point A to point B is deemed simply too inconvenient to suit the requirements of their modern lifestyles.

Modern times and the convenience fad seems to have created a generation that is so easily lead by marketing and spin, that with all the ills of the world to tackle - ranging from the actions of British soccer fans abroad to the fact that takes a week to get a GP's appointment (always in the hope that he is not a serial murderer, of course), a rather vociferous minority of fanatics can redirect the attention of the government and thereby the nation, to erode centuries-old personal liberties "because they can". The fact that banning fox hunting will lead to the systematic extermination of the pests by "any other means" doesn't seem to factor in their thinking, which is of course not "thinking" in the old fashioned sense, but the received wisdom of a bunch of fanatics who have learned how to spin the system.

No wonder most of the rest of Europe regard the British as mad when we systematically and routinely place the welfare of foxes and criminals above that of "normally sane human beings". Given the desire of many of the same people to promote the unwanted incipient invasion of the EC into our lives, perhaps they might go to Spain and try their luck at banning a bull fight, first..?

Alongside the passion for the PC (both senses) is growing the notion that for an increasingly large sector of the population, convenience is based on the proposition that they have easier access money than time. So now perhaps the ultimate "convenience" phenomenon is "convenience thinking", for in the world of the PC (both senses) we allow others to do our thinking for us. After all, we have allowed Bill Gates and his tribe to tell us what's good for us, and we have allowed Tony's spinners to tell us what's good for us. Just look an see how many people have allowed convenience thinking to rule their lives.

In this world where money seems to have gone barmy along with its victims, how can we (the normally sane writers and readers of Computer Shopper) be surprised to learn that the FBI have bagged hundred of internet share-hyping Mafiosi? How else could companies with no assets, no ideas and no hope command stock valuations of millions of dollars..?

And we are not surprised to learn that the mob have been dangling their victims over the parapets of building and bridges by their ankles [illo opportunity!] until they promise to post hype - backed by their reputations - on stock bulletin boards.

But Bill Gates has been dangling the PC manufacturing industry over the abyss of ruin for many years now - unless they agree to do business in a way that suits Microsoft. This fact has been obvious to some of us for many years past, and those of us who have been trying to point this out have been learning steadily just how easily large numbers of "normally sane" folks can be hypnotized by the right marketing spin - and that time honoured tactic of telling a big enough lie long enough, the weak-willed who suffer from too much convenience thinking will believe you.

Maybe the answer is that all these people listed above are not, in fact, "normally sane" in the old fashioned sense of the word. Maybe the rest of world is indeed mad, and only you and I are sane.?