Don’t Be Simple

As time goes by, I find myself getting more and more annoyed by a certain element of society. Unfortunately, this particular group of people are getting larger and larger each and every day. You too may be a member of this rabble, or maybe you’re just on the edges, thinking of diving in, in which case I implore you to step away from the side, and get a grip.

These are the people who fear complexity. They don’t just fear it – they shun it, run away and hide. Any conversation has to be along the simplest and most straightforward lines. God forbid your argument takes more than two grammatically simple sentences to convey. They’ll pale over, have a little chuckle to themselves and say “Oh, I’m sorry, I think you’ve lost me already.”

These people are infiltrating our society, often showing up in the most unlikeliest of places. Last week, during Question Time, Iain Duncan Smith tried to explain the outline of the Synod’s democratic process to David Dimbleby, who quickly rolled his eyes, chuckled to the audience, and uttered what is rapidly becoming the groups’ motto; “I think you’ve lost me already.”

While it’s never been the definition on sophistication, TV is falling further and further into the hands of those with a mania for the mundane. Reality TV, soaps, and ‘dramality’ take the most basic concepts and batter the viewer around the head with them until they think they like it. Comedy seems to be gravitating towards the extremes of churlish or offensive. Even The News fears having more than one guest on at a time these days.

The internet is partly guilty too, I’m afraid. We all love Twitter, but it’s making us more and more insistent on things being short, snappy and simple. It fuels are craving for snappy one line facts, arguments and jokes. Blogs are going the same way, getting shorter and shorter, writers jotting down their thoughts in 200 words or less, persuading themselves that the reader will somehow rapidly loose interest beyond this point, regardless of what has preceded it and what promises to follow.

Politics too, is becoming more and more unsophisticated. It would seem like politicians are no longer able to hold more than a simple thought in their head at one time, constantly resorting to who’s fault it was in the first place, without offering any answers for the future. Election campaigns resort around no more than a slogan (“Yes we can”) at times, and debates are often completely and utterly pointless repetition of the same one-liners again and again and again. When a politician actually tries to offer real deep change, like Lansley with his NHS reforms, people scoff, tut, and question whether or not he understands it himself, rather than openly engage with the proposal and evaluate it on its own merits.

Simplicity is a good thing. Everyone like’s it when something can be easily achieved or understood. But we shouldn’t simply refuse to engage with something when we don’t immediately understand it, and nor should we try and compulsively make things simple when they’re not.

A jet engine is not simple. The Economy is not simple. A human body is not simple. The World is not simple. No one’s suggesting that we should all try and get our heads around each and every complex form in the universe. But please, don’t just discard or give up on something because it’s not immediately understandable. And don’t insist on simplicity if it’s going to take something away from the very heart of the thing you’re attempting to create.

In short, don’t be simple.