Opinion: Why I love to hate ‘hacks’
Australia, we have reached peak hack.
Look, I'm all for creativity - and God knows I love a shortcut (my signature dish is frozen fish cooked in a sandwich maker) - but we need to stop.
We are hacking ourselves to death. There are thousands of websites, Facebook pages and viral videos flogging the life hack, the clothes hack and home hack.
I understand that when you come up with a genius idea, you want to share it.
I'm like that with cheap clothes. When someone compliments me on an outfit, it's like I have thrifty Tourettes syndrome. I am compelled to immediately blurt out where I got the item and for how much.
Even as I speak, I realise they don't actually care, they were just trying to be nice, but I have to give full details or else I might explode from unreleased shopper pride.
(Damn it, now I have to write this … my own wedding dress cost just £50 - I snaffled it in a going-out-of-business sale from Virgin Brides in London. Yes, that was the real name. I hear Slut Brides is still doing a roaring trade, however.)
The problem with these hack sites is that most of the examples are not hacks at all. To paraphrase Einstein, they are 1 per cent innovation, 99 per cent incomprehension.
FYI, buying a poster and a picture frame and using the two in conjunction is NOT a hack. Both are serving their intended purpose. You have not saved anyone time or money or discovered a new way to decorate your home. Get off my internet.
Part of the problem is that everyone wants to go viral - and, just as with an actual virus, what better way than with an almighty 'hack'?
Fortunately, there are now pages dedicated to dismantling #fakehacks.
Interestingly, while Kmart rules the roost when it comes to cheap and chic homewares, it also rules the roasts when it comes to all the ways that we're abusing a good thing.
And by 'good thing' I mean marble-look contact paper.
This is the description from the official Kmart website: "This vinyl adhesive roll, with a marble design, can be used for DIY projects at home, scrapbooking and embellishments. Simply peel off the adhesive backing and stick to your folders, workbooks and much more."
So. Much. More.
I now find myself perusing the posts on the Kmart Unhacks and Roasts page almost religiously - just to see what God forsaken way someone has used this adhesive. I'm talking kitchen benches completely covered, makeovers on washing machines and other white goods that really should remain white, plus bedside drawers and more ridiculously wrapped.
In contact paper.
If you can't afford a new kitchen bench, I'm pretty sure you're fooling nobody but yourself with this make under. These 'hacks' are surely proof that mankind is in its end days.
Need more evidence? What about the new trend for sleep hacking? Yes, that's right. The goal here is to spend less time in the light sleep phase, instead moving immediately to high-quality phases such as deep sleep or rapid eye movement sleep.
Don't worry, I'm sure their sleep masks have been covered in marble contact.
It's ironic that our obsession with hacks - ostensibly due to the desire to save time and money - leaves us knee deep in ridiculously painstaking projects and ugly home improvements that end up being a waste of, well, time and money. And yet still we can't get enough.
To be honest, I kind of do get it. Just like with my budget clothing buys, everyone loves to feel like they got a good deal - whether that's a new kitchen bench for $4.95 or subverting the system by turning a fruit bowl into a light fitting.
But sorry sleep hackers, you're on your own. The only reason I want more hours in the day is so I have more time to lie in bed. I find more sleep equals better efficiency.
That's a journalist hack. Or, as I like to call it, a hack hack.
Now to cover my contact book in contact.