Convenience Is Making Me Lazy and Poor

Spotify. Hulu. Netflix. Amazon Prime. Evernote. Dropbox. Google Apps. iCloud. Stop me when you get the point.

There was a time in my life where I did everything the hard way. Not because I was inefficient, or stupid, but because it provided me opportunities to learn a ton about how things work.

During my sophomore year of college, I lived alone in a tiny studio apartment. Despite a serious lack of space and money, I managed to cobble together a half-dozen servers and started experimenting with them.

For the next year, I ran my own web server, mail server, name server, DHCP server, file server, and MUD server. I had no idea what I was doing, but I loved every second I spent learning something new.

Over the next several years, I continued to do things the hard way. When given the choice between paying for a third-party service or building my own for free, I almost always opted to build my own. AppleTV? XBMC is just as good. Dropbox? No thanks. I learned quickly that there are open source alternatives to almost every commercial product available.

Then I got a real job.

It’s amazing how a little bit of money changes the way you think. Suddenly, all the things I shunned became financially viable. It didn’t take long for me to change my perspective. It sure would be nice to listen to all the music in the world whenever I want… Oh, hello Spotify! Managing my own mail server sure is a pain in the ass… Nice to meet you Google Apps!

Obviously, I’m not the only one. It seems like practically every company leans heavily on the concept of providing convenience (for a price). Dropbox took the overhead out of managing your own version control system. Uber provided private chauffers to the common man. AirBnb made it easy for people to rent castles.

Convenience isn’t a bad thing. There are services I will gladly pay for in perpetuity because they provide me so much value (Plex and Amazon Prime are two great examples), but I truly miss the rush that came from building my own solutions to problems.

I think it’s time to fix my perspective.

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Written by Zachary Flower on 03 July 2016