Nothing Is Complicated
For the last ten years, I’ve tried to expunge the words ‘simple’ and ‘complex’ from my vocabulary and thinking.
Good and Bad Words
Different cultures use different words. I can’t say how much it affects their thinking - people have levied many criticisms of the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis. Still, I suspect bad words inflict bad thinking.
I just called words ‘bad’, but the Mbuti would never do that. They don’t have the words ‘good’ or ‘bad’, so their language forces them to specify what problem they want to state. Words can give you the wrong impression, and food can poison you, and the Mbuti never have to call the food ‘bad’.
Apparently, people don’t need the ‘good’ and the ‘bad’.
Someone once told me “it’s complicated”, and reflexively, I wondered if that was true. How do you decide what’s complicated and what’s not? Perhaps look at the number of parts? But then we can divide things into any number of parts, with no right answer. We could say a house has a top and bottom floor (two parts), or count the rooms, or the bricks, or the atoms. I don’t see any way to count parts.
I wandered around for something complicated, to see what makes it complicated. I had just learnt some proof in a recent Philosophy class about ‘1 + 1 = 2’. That felt complicated when I learnt it, but now seems simple. The proof contains very few parts, so we can’t call it ‘complicated’ based on that.
So what do people mean when they call something ‘complicated’?
Tssss…yeah, well um, actually, Balkan history is really complicated.
I hear this non-introduction persistently, and it teaches me nothing. I think people who say this really want to tell you that they know lots of things.
Let’s do this on Windows. It’s possible on Linux, but that’s really complicated.
In this case, someone uses ‘complexity’, to show they feel unfamiliar with the subject matter.
Actually, it’s simpler on Linux.
And there we see someone telling you they know lots about the subject.
Keep it simple, stupid
And as before, this tells you nothing about which tools to use. One person ‘keeping it simple’, might want to build a house from bricks, another will use mud. This advice amounts to nothing more than using the familiar.