There's a concept in economics called "the law of diminishing returns." Essentially, it means that you will eventually reach a point where putting more effort into something stops benefiting you and, just like your mom, it tends to go down quickly. Which, much like your mom, brings me to the Internet.
You may not have noticed, but an entire cottage industry has sprung up over a grave misunderstanding of the word "hack," and it flourishes on lesser list sites. The thing is, I'm really not sure who most of these supposed quick fixes are intended for. Most of the time, they're way more work than what you're already doing, and the results are often exactly the same. In academic terms, your rate of return (and your mom) sucks decrepit old balls. To spot a bullshit life hack, ask yourself if ...
#5. It Requires The Acquisition Of Lots Of Little Tiny Things
Paper clips and their cousins are the currency of the life-hack world, as valuable as gold. You can use them to find the end of a roll of tape! To organize your cables! To keep your keyboard in an ergonomic position, you giant pancreas!
via Thinking Humanity
But can they fix your broken heart? No.
You can even use a hair clip to keep your headphones together and snap the clips off pants hangers for an instant chip clip if your need to keep your processed corn product fresh outweighs your need to not have a closet floor covered in pants.
That is the thumbs-up of a person who has given up pants forever.
And, at least in my home, those things are going to get scattered and lost in approximately two seconds. I can barely keep track of my child; you expect me to keep track of 200 paper clips? This is supposed to make my life easier, right? Because all I see are new things for me to run around screaming about not being able to find. Do you even have any hair clips? No, you don't, because those are apparently the currency of choice for the gnomes who sneak into your house at night and jack your shit, because damned if those things don't vanish within a fortnight.
Neil Duazo/iStock/Getty Images
If you see this bastard, you tell him there's a very frizzy lady he's got unfinished business with.
I don't understand how the tape thing works at all. It's sticky. How do you get it off without destroying the paper clip? Between losing them and destroying them, you're going to have to refill your paper-clip supply like weekly. Just do the thing where you fold the chip bag over and stick it in the cupboard upside down, and pick the tape off the roll with your fingernails like God intended. And who has plastic hangers just lying around that they're not using? Which brings me to ...
#4. It Requires You To Become A Hoarder
Other major players in the life-hack game are the little plastic squares they use to tie off loaves of bread and the tabs from soda cans. The former is used mostly for labeling cables:
via Sarcastic Charm
The last thing you need is for grandma to flatline because you wanted to get all sudsy.
But they can also be used to find the end of a roll of tape after you've lost all your paper clips, because apparently you're all living in the black-and-white part of the infomercial where fingernails don't exist. Soda can tabs can be used as fishing hooks, something with zippers, something with hangers -- honestly, I'm pretty confused about this soda can tab business, but I guess people fucking love them.
"Shit, now my chips are stale."
People also loved the ketchup bottle pancake trick, which I've seen shared over and over by people who are deadly fucking serious about their morning syrup sponges.
The problem with this is that it requires me to go back in time and save all of my bread ties and soda can tabs and then not lose them like paper clips. You already have to be a very organized and diligent person who probably doesn't need any life hacks. I have to have the presence of mind to remember not to throw out my empty ketchup bottle (or just buy one and waste a bunch of ketchup, and I for one was not raised to waste perfectly good tomato corpses), then wash it out, then keep washing it out every time I want to make pancakes. Or I could just have weird-looking pancakes, because fuck, who cares?
#3. It Requires Buying Things You Definitely Don't Have Around The House
Let me ask you something: Are there people out there who own a shoe organizer, let alone one they're not currently using? Like ... like a backup shoe organizer? What kind of person has that? I'm kind of scared of them. If you ever find that your shoe organizer inventory exceeds your shoe organizer need, there's probably a 1-800 number you can call about your shopping addiction.
But there are tons of life hacks that involve using a shoe organizer to organize everything but shoes, so there's either a lot of you out there or there's a lot of people going out to buy brand-new shoe organizers for these purposes, and I do get the feeling that this type of person is probably not OK with eating snacks out of a pouch that recently held sweaty shoes.
The kind of person I'm not scared of, however, is a person who still buys physical media, because that person doesn't exist. It's an industry that is apparently thriving on people who can't figure out how to prop their phones up.
You'd have to be a very special kind of hoarder if you still have your old cassette cases hanging around, and I can't imagine the trajectory your life needs to take in which you a) own a CD holder, b) despite not needing to use it to hold CDs, and c) it's very important to you to keep your bagel together.
"This is way better than just eating the damn thing."
BuzzFeed even wants me to use a wine rack to hold my towels, which, OK, permit me to traipse down to my wine cellar and then beat my manservant Dickinbottom for standing idly by while I am forced to commit the indignity of doing something for myself.
He shall taste the back of my hand.
It's not a life hack if you have to go out and buy something for one specific purpose. That's called commerce. There's nothing wrong with that -- buying stuff is the most American thing you can do -- but if I'm going to go out and buy something that I will use as a towel rack, why wouldn't I just buy a towel rack? I am not too good to take two seconds to rummage around in my cupboards if it means not being the kind of asshole who has shoe organizers hung up everywhere. Or, at least, Dickinbottom isn't.