January 16, 2016

Internet, Stop Offering Me “Life Hacks”

I’m starting to learn that anything that includes a “hack” of any kind when it comes to “happiness” or “success” is 100% not worth clicking on.

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I hate the word “hack”. I mean, it has a few definitions, so let me clarify: I don’t mean in the sense of a “writer for hire” or someone who breaks into secret computer systems wearing a balaclava. No, I’m talking about the way this word is constantly used in the headlines of Internet articles that promise to make your whole life more efficient “using these 5 easy hacks!” In this context, Urban Dictionary says a hack is a “clever solution to a tricky problem.” With any new buzzword (especially when publications think it’s the newest thing on the block when it isn’t) after a while it starts to grate.

I thought it was a 2015 thing. And that’s OK. I was happy to click onto “10 hacks to make your bathroom look bigger!” or “5 hacks to create better storage!” – these sorts of articles didn’t annoy me too much. I once read a list of hacks on how to make your iPhone battery last longer. They were helpful. But we’ve entered a new year and magazines/newspapers seem to be using it more than ever – and what’s worse – in a sense of trying to make you think that a few “hacks” can cure your life long issues, or land you a dream job. (There are even articles out there offering you some quick and easy lifehacks to cure depression.)

I don’t think so.

We all know you can’t “hack” your way to longterm happiness and success. It takes time. That’s the point.

A while ago I found the article “12 lifestyle hacks for busy Londoners” on my Facebook feed – and it included things like “can’t be bothered to do the washing up? Use paper plates instead!” and “use the heat of your laptop to keep your tea mug warm” – WHAT? I found myself rolling my eyes, because although the Internet is one of the best things ever to exist, it is also guilty of hosting content from sites that treats their readers like idiots.

Another one that popped up the other day on Twitter – this time it was: “Hack your way to being a social media influencer in 2016!” These sorts of articles make my stomach turn, in the same way as it does when I see someone an article about BUYING followers (yes, people still share articles like that); it’s a gross way of saying that it’s easy to grow an audience if you follow some ridiculous cheatsheet. Whether it’s a big company, or a YouTuber sitting in their bedroom, there is absolutely no way you can jump the hard work and persistence. It takes time to build something real and valuable.

Anyone who runs an online business or a blog knows that there is absolute no overnight “hacks” to growing an audience or building a backlog of content. You have to nurture it.

I think the reason I don’t like being told how to “hack myself happy” (I read a piece with this title in the Evening Standard yesterday) is because you cannot SHORTCUT your way to feeling a certain way. Offering hacks are fine if you are telling readers how to cut down the time it takes to build an IKEA wardrobe, fine, offer us a hack then – but not when it comes to your personal life. I don’t think it is possible to hack your way anywhere when it comes to relationships, careers, personal growth. Of course you can’t solve all your problems by reading a listicle of a few “quick solutions”. 

I like talking about self-improvement. Going to workshops. Reading, reading, reading. Having long and meaty conversations. But I’m not interested in shortcuts and “tips”.

I’m all about learning; growing slowly and truthfully. Instead of looking for way to cut corners and reading a viral list, I will continue to get up each morning, put one foot in front of the other and work and try and fail and learn. Nothing is simple or easy, so I wish the Internet would stop pretending “lifehacks” are a thing.

  • I love this post, this ‘real talk’ needed to happen and Im glad it came from you. I’ve only recently started blogging and I do it for fun, but even then trying to stick to schedule with (uni/part time job and all those kind of things) is sometimes stressful.

  • Every once in awhile I’ll pick up something useful from one of those “hack” lists that ends up helping me around a block I have, but the vast majority of the time I feel like the so-called hacks are just common sense suggestions for everyday problems. Not that I have anything against folks writing about that, but it does often seem very surface level…

  • Kortney

    I totally relate to this post. Sometimes the amount of “life hacks” and other clickbait about all the “shoulds” you should be doing can be super overwhelming. And frustrating. I love your point about learning and growing slowly and truthfully. I think that, as a girl in her mid-twenties, this method of approaching the world is definitely beginning to resonate with me more than any shortcut, despite the temptation of the quick fix. Loved it!

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