Valuing the experience over efficiency
When it comes to the world of entrepreneurship, technology has become a wealth of opportunity. Recently, Elon Musk claimed that he could possibly land us on Mars within six years, saving us from the doom of climate change or a deadly asteroid. At this rate, technology could potentially solve life’s every struggle. Entrepreneurs recognize this massive goldmine that is the tech industry… and are working day and night to create the next problem solving machine. We have the tech industry to thank for this efficient world that we live in, but is efficiency always our number one priority? Frankly, I hope that’s not the case. We’re not here to methodically speed through life, but rather to relish in it. In the realm of business and entrepreneurship, it’s no secret that tech gets a lot of attention, and for good reason. Technology could very well be the thing that saves our lives… but when it comes down to it, does technology really give us life?
Undoubtedly, technology is one of the biggest gifts to grace our world. It has enhanced our qualities of life by immeasurable amounts and has actually created more time for us to stop and smell the roses. Whereas, long before the information age, any time not spent trying to keep the family from dying of a strange cold, was donated directly to milking the cows and plowing the field. We have reached a time when it is no longer risky to live. Not only do we have advanced medicine to fall back on when things go awry, but we have inventions that allow us to do more than simply exist. We’ve got all kinds of transportation allowing us to travel anywhere we please, communication tools that allow us to talk to people on the other side of the world… sooner or later we may even have a way to get to Mars. I count my blessings daily that I have been lucky enough to live in this highly creative era, filled with opportunities. But something that this fast paced world makes easy to forget, is that the little things are what make life worth living. Small businesses are a perfect example of this simple enjoyment. Generally, they don’t have a wide geographical reach, but those that they do reach often become greatly appreciative, loyal customers. Many of us have our favorite “hole in wall” restaurant, a cute vintage clothing store that we love, or an online etsy shop that sells the most unique artwork for our bedroom walls. It’s small, hidden gem businesses like these that give our lives that little extra sparkle. There are times when large tech companies and corporations are lethal to anything less efficient than themselves, which can pose serious problems for the small businesses of the world. Lately, it seems as though Amazon can do everything that a small business can do, but faster. While Amazon is getting the job done, the unique experiences that small businesses provide are just not there. One example of this in my own life is a time when I was trying to figure out a graduation gift for my best friend. She had committed to Western Washington University and considering she’s the most thoughtful gift giver I’ve ever met, I had to do something creative. I ended up finding the most beautiful embroidered “WWU” logo on etsy that I sewed onto a sweatshirt. Thanks to this niche business, I was able to put together a very unique gift for my friend, that wasn’t just another mass produced copy.
If you stop and look around, it’s not hard to find instances where we choose a prolonged journey simply for the purpose of an amusing experience. The disposable camera for example, is a product that went under the radar because of more efficient ones. Nevertheless, the popularity of the product has recently skyrocketed. The cameras are often sold out and the endearing, low-quality images are regularly plastered all over social media. The likely reason for this would be our generation’s current fixation on the 1990’s and early 2000’s era. In terms of fashion, music, movies, and photography, we are actively trying our best to recreate this time period. Young people’s new found love for the disposable camera reveals that sometimes in life, efficiency isn’t everything. In this case, we tend to value the twenty-year-rewind experience over the efficiency of an iphone snapshot. The fact that a simple trend can outweigh the benefits of technology, is fascinating, and proves how much we enjoy relishing in life’s little things.
Another instance that depicts our value of experience over efficiency has been revealed through the pandemic. Zoom meetings can do anything that a classroom can do, but in a more efficient manner. However, they don’t give us the experience and human connection that we look for. Thanks to the pandemic, we have become far too familiar with the lonely disconnected feeling each zoom call instills in us. Sure, we have technology to thank for keeping our society running for the past year, but we didn’t necessarily have a great time. I know that many of my fellow college freshmen would give anything to experience a live, in person lecture. It’s funny how we long for the day that we get to wake up at the crack of dawn, put on a stiff pair of jeans and hike all the way to our lecture… rather than reaching for our laptops five minutes before our eight am zoom calls and simply watching them from the comfort of our own beds. I think most of us would agree that the efficiency of zoom doesn’t compare to the buzzing energy of a room full of people. It is interesting how technology is a model of growth and progress, however in cases like these, that hinder human connection, many of us would choose to revert back to less efficient options. This again proves how much we value authentic experiences in our lives.
If you stop and think about it, people are constantly taking the more inefficient route if it will make for an enhanced experience. Say you drive to the coffee shop all the way across town because they make the best lattes… or maybe you take the long way home because your favorite song isn’t over yet… occasionally you decide to sit down at a restaurant for an hour instead of opting for the McDonald’s drive thru. It’s easy to forget about each Starbucks run you’ve ever been on… but that one unique coffee shop that makes your favorite lattes is going to be pretty unforgettable at the end of the day. All in all, it is important to the health of our society that we support small business, especially in the midst of the pandemic. We are extremely fortunate to be living in such a technologically advanced world, but we should never take small businesses for granted and continue to recognize the impact they make on each individual.
“Small businesses contribute to local economies by bringing growth and innovation to the community in which the business is established. Small businesses also help stimulate economic growth by providing employment opportunities to people who may not be employable by larger corporations” (Mariah Brown).