This writing stems from an article in this month’s Car & Driver. They ran a comparison test between all the major electric cars on the market. Fiat, Chevy, Ford, Smart, among others were tested. After reading the article, I was bothered by one thing. Here were all these electric vehicles built for the sole purpose of economy and fuel saving; however, all of them were only sold at the highest trim levels available. This included touch screens, electric everything, and all the luxuries available. I found myself asking why? If I want to buy an electric car, I want it to be simple. Light. Cheap. All of these cars were in the $30,000 range, and while the gas equivalent mileage was good at about 100 mpg, I still feel like the manufacturers are missing the point. These cars are just another example of the rise in complexity of everything in our modern lives. I got to thinking, where is this complexity taking us?
I know, I probably sound a bit old- fogeyish, but I wonder what the consequences of complexity are on our minds? When I was a child, there was one kind of Snickers bar, there were two kinds of M&M’s and choices were simple. Now, when I take my kids to the gas station, there are literally hundreds of different kinds of candy to choose from. Of course, the complexity doesn’t end with candy, this is just one simple illustration. Think about entertainment, the internet, all the choices we are faced with daily. What does this do to our ability to make thought-out and deliberate decisions?
When faced with too much, do our brains just shut down and take whatever is offered? Think about it. Who has time to sift through all the facts and information available on any given consumer choice? Does this information overload affect even bigger decisions like who to vote for or whether or not to vote at all?
I have students who write about how they do not care about politics. They have simply tuned out of everything remotely political. They feel disenfranchised, as if none of their ideas matter. I work with teachers who feel this way about the educational system. We are bombarded with these new studies, standards, and tests. Faced with all of this, what can we do to sort through and find meaning?
I have no answers. I just want to ask the question.