Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Too Much

Come on feel the Illinoise
Originally uploaded by Paul Mayne

"I eat too much. I drink too much. I want too much. Too much!" ~ Too Much by The Dave Matthews Band

Sunday, as some friends and I wandered downtown Ft. Worth we took note of something not all that uncommon, yet somewhat ridiculous. To our left in plain view was a Starbucks and to our right was another clearly visible Starbucks. One of my friends, Clay, pointed out that it was once their philosophy that sometimes people cannot be bothered to cross the street. Boing Boing said it best, "I'm waiting for the little 'Starbucks Mini' to open inside another Starbucks."

This got me thinking about our tendency for excess. It seems to be human nature to find a good thing and then drive it into the ground. Pop radio and pop culture in general are a prime example of this. Radio will take a good song and play it so often that people grow tired of it very quickly. Popular culture likes to inundate us with the fad of the moment almost continuously.

In today's culture it can be difficult to see the value of moderation. In almost every situation in life, too much of a good thing will lead to some unwanted side effects (clutter, addiction. obsession, etc.).

As I thought about this, I considered one aspect of my life (albeit small) where I have allowed excess to overrun a good thing. I'm a music lover. I pride myself in discovering new or unheard of bands that produce great music. When I discover a gem I love to share it with others. Ask my friends and some will tell you it annoys them, while others appreciate the opportunity to discover some new or different music.

This appreciation for music has led to an unwanted side effect I never imagined would occur. In my never-ending quest I've accumulated over 9,000 songs on my iPod. It's inevitable that when you have 9,000 songs on your iPod, you're going to have many you simply do not like. I no longer enjoy the shuffle mode because I end up skipping many songs. I find myself enjoying my wife's iPod more (only 1,700 songs to choose from) because there's less skipping to be had. It has become clear to me I need to perform a cleansing of my iPod. For me, too much of a good thing has ruined the experience of listening to music.

It's this way with nearly anything in life. Too much of your grandma's chocolate-chip cookies will make you fat. Too much soda will also make you heavier and can lead to an addiction to caffiene. The same can be said for coffee. Too much luggage on your flight will lead to more charges. Too much watching of movies will lead to no time to take care of your responsibilities (not to mention, too little cash).

I think you get the point. The true value of something often remains when there's moderation. Value is most certainly lost when excess becomes the rule.

"Going to the other side of the street can be a barrier," Launi Skinner (2006), senior vice president in charge of Starbucks' store development.

It's not such a bad thing to cross the street. Doing so can lend to the value of the experience.


Seventy-Six said...

Good points. I capped my Ipod off at 6000+ songs and found myself playing about 4-5 albums over and over again in the past two months.

The music is there...and I still enjoy 75% of it; just cycles I get in (like everyone else)

Chris McDaniel said...

Starbucks' practice of stores 'cannibalizing' one another like you describe reminds me of another company that once used the same practice, to similar effect: Blockbuster. In bigger cities, Blockbuster stores were often within blocks of each other (though I never saw any directly across the street like that!) The thinking behind it was, they'd rather have two of their own stores cannibalize each others' revenue, than have a competitor move in, and share that revenue with them instead. To a large degree, it worked. No one goes to Moo-vies or Movie Gallery, because they don't exist anymore. It took a game-changer - Netflix- to take BBV down. They were able to do it only because they took real estate out of the equation.

On your iPod, keep the music (in iTunes,) just be more selective which ones get to ride on the Pod with you. (My old-skool 8gb iPhone only holds about 1200 songs! Woe is me.)

Andrew Weaver said...

Ryan - Yeah, I need a cap. It will require me lowering my songs a few thousand though.

Chris - Very good point about Blockbuster. I had almost forgot about those stores!