Essential Inconvenience

Posted by Matt Birchler
— 1 min read

Bryan Caplan: Convenience vs. Social Desirability Bias

The Panglossian explanation is that there’s almost no political resistance to the inconvenience of extra privacy, safety, and consumer protection because these benefits are clearly worth the loss of convenience. Yet that’s hard to reconcile with the enormous effect of convenience on our actual behavior. Furthermore, we routinely complain about inconvenience one-on-one, or with trusted friends. When people are speaking off the record, I’ve heard at least a hundred times as many complaints about inconvenience as I’ve heard about lack of privacy, safety, or consumer protection.

This article is bizarre, and I'd counter his anecdotal example here with my own: people I know complain all the time about their devices "listening" to them and ads being creepy and how Big Tech sucks up all their data and…the list goes on.

I would also add that levels of inconvenience are essential to a functioning society. It's inconvenient that I get stopped by a stoplight on my way home from work, it certainly would be more convenient if I could just drive straight through, but perhaps there are other things at play that make that unreasonable. Similarly, I think it's worth saying out load that a lot of inconvenience (or rad tape) is in place for a reason, and that reason is that people can be assholes. If everyone is cool, then no red tape is needed, of course.

Sometimes removing inconvenience is amazing, and it's absolutely wonderful when this happens to things that have gotten bloated to the point of impracticality. But again, just like it's inconvenient for me to have to wait behind other people at the supermarket, there are levels of inconvenience that we need to accept as a functioning society.