Chris Wiegman Chris Wiegman

My Obsession With Tools Isn’t Healthy

For as long as I can remember I’ve been obsessed with my tools. From my hardware to my “uses” page to my work in building tools, perfectionism in my own setup has been an obsession and it isn’t healthy.

I don’t know for sure where it all came from but I think it has a lot to do with the fact that, for a long time, my computers have been the only thing I really have any control over. My house is cluttered to the point where I often feel claustrophobic and it doesn’t feel like a home. Work is, by nature, done for someone else and for a number of reasons I have few hobbies. As a result my computers are my canvas, as sad as that sounds, and I’ve been all too obsessed with that canvas.

This isn’t really a new thing. As a kid I was only allowed most toys until my brother wanted them or to watch TV until anyone else wanted to change the channel. My reality has always been that my control over my life only went as far as the wants of everyone else I lived with. Day to day joy has always been something I could only control if, and only if, absolutely no one wanted something else.

As I’ve gotten older my computers have been my refuge from that. As a result I obsess with “better” tools like constantly wanting to change to Linux. Heck, even that is probably because I support the rest of my family on Apple devices so I find myself using them myself.

What does “better” tools even mean? In my mind I’ve convinced myself it’s for more ethical tools yet all tools, or nearly all tools, are unethical in one way or another. I mean, it’s neat to think I could do “better” than big tech with Linux and Firefox until I look at how much big tech supports both Linux and Firefox.

I’d like to think that “better” means I can do my work more efficiently or somehow be more productive but the truth is the most productive tech I’ve ever had have been when I’ve gone all-in on Apple’s or Google’s ecosystem so alternatives definitely aren’t better if I’m talking about being productive.

It’s one thing for me to continue to want to build tech that is more ethical and to avoid services and tech that are inherently unethical such as what Twitter and Facebook have become but, in the end, I still need efficient tools to get that work and any other computing done. I could take the hard way and try to switch completely to Linux again with a host of services and software that have their own issues or I could stick with my Apple hardware that has very similar issues.

In the end the issues I’m trying to escape such as exploitive tech and surveillance aren’t much better on any tech. It’s time to stop fighting that and just build with what I have. My obsession with my tools has gotten in the way of what’s important and that doesn’t help anyone.