Monday, June 25, 2012

In Search of Quality

Remember when they made stuff that lasts?

When books did not have typographical errors?

When TV shows were produced with quality in mind?

When movies were made with actors who had that star quality, not just visual appeal?

When vehicles lasted for 150,000 and that wasn't abnormal?

Yeah, it was a long time ago, and I am showing my age. There is an entire generation of people alive now who have no idea what I'm talking about.

They live in mediocre-land, and always have. They don't know that there used to be a drive toward perfection, a push toward excellence. They don't remember when the word "merit" actually meant something.

Things used to have merit.

I am not a fan of mediocre-land. I liked it when I read a book without being interrupted by a typographical error. I am currently reading a compilation of a series of teen novels, and it is riddled with errors, typographical and otherwise. Simon and Schuster should be ashamed of themselves.

My refrigerator is about seven years old. It replaced one that was 21 years old; guess what needs to be replaced now? Yes. The seven-year old Frigidare. The seals around the door have cracked and split, and this morning I noticed the compressor on it was chugging away like a boat on a river. It won't be long, I fear.

TV is full of reality shows, with people who are not actors acting like children. The movies are created by hacks who wouldn't know a decent story line if it rose up and bit them on the ankle.

When I first went to work for a lawyer, way back in 1983, we were told we could not submit a document to the court with a typographical error in it. And we were using IBM Selectric typewriters, not word processors or computers. I remember sitting with my coworker, reading deed descriptions aloud to ensure that we did not make a mistake. We proofed each other's work.

I am not sure when quality became a bad word, and it became okay to simply put stuff out there. When did copy editing become something that could be dismissed by newspapers and publishers? I don't know when it became acceptable to build an appliance that lasts three years, not 30.

Sometime in the late 1980s, it seems.

I think this represents a change in mores, a decline in responsibility, and a loss of education and distinction. It mirrors the rise of capitalism and consumerism, as quality is not preferable to riches; when only riches matter, quality must suffer.

This loss of quality comes at the cost of the rise of mediocrity.

And mediocrity does not last.

People will look back on the last 30 years and dismiss it completely, if the future ever rises to humanity's full potential. If it doesn't, no one will care anyway. It will be too mediocre to care.

Lost generation. Lost in mediocrity. Somehow today I feel that describes the world.

Happy Monday.


  1. it's sad isn't it? everything made now is disposable and it makes me sick to think of all this junk sitting in land fills because we need to replace major appliances within a few years. we just replaced our grill and discovered that anything below something like $2000 now are only made to last 2-3 years. crazy and sick. it really is disturbing what our world is coming to.

    1. Thanks for that thoughtful comment. It is sad - a good quality word for it!

  2. Diddle BruffeyJune 25, 2012 9:35 AM

    It's all about the dollar. Lower quality for greater profits. I see it every day, all day, in every aspect of life.


    1. Of course it is. I know what it's about. But I don't live for the dollar. Nor should anyone else. Does Jesus say, go forth, ye, and seek ye the mighty dollar? No. In Matthew 6:24, he says: "You cannot serve God and mammon." Mammon is money. You can't be righteous and chasing after money.

    2. Too true. Yet the lessons taught by what we do, rather than what we say, suggest that making money is the only good people care about. I understand there is even a church that preaches that money is good, and a sign of God's favour!

      Currently we are supposed to let the Market make all significant decisions - the Market knows best. But I bet if people really had a choice, they would rather pay for better quality stuff that didn't fail after a few years. It would be better for the environment too - we wouldn't be wasting resources, or choking the world with refuse.

  3. Now, of course, it's easier to replace than repair. (Are there still repairmen?) Is it a coincidence that quality of merchandise declined about the time that the self-esteem movement took over the public schools?

  4. An excellent post. There's a lot to be said about quality over quantity but sadly, most people don't seem to care anymore. Like you I hate typo-riddled books, no matter how good the story. I abhor all the faux-reality TV and so-called comedies that rely on bathroom "humor" for their laughs that has taken over the airwaves. It is difficult to find good, clean family programing these days. And movies... I am tired of hearing how fewer people are going to the movies. Gee, did they ever stop to think that maybe if they made quality films instead of garbage and stopped remaking perfectly good movies that maybe people frequent cinemas more often?

    As for appliances...I agree that nothing seems to last as long as they used to. Granted, in some instances (such as TVs and computers) the problem is in part the ever-changing technology. It is supposed to be illegal to throw them in dumpsters and landfills, but when faced with exhorbitant fees for disposing of them properly, many people do just that, especially in the current economy. Our city recently held a free ecycling event for any small appliance/electronics (TVs, VCRs, radios, conputers, etc) and collected 400,000 pounds--sixteen semis full--of goods that would otherwise have ended up in landfills. Yes, I took advantage of the event. And wouldn't you know, I found something else that could have gone a week later.

    Wish I could do the same with my fridge. I have to keep an empty bowl at back of the top shelf in my fridge because, for the past three years, the freezer has been leaking into the fridge. The drainage hole is in the back, under the "floor" of the freezer, and is impossible to keep clear of debris. The hole clogs up again within a week or two of the freezer being defrosted and the hole cleared (apparently a known problem with this model). I finally gave up and just set a bowl in place to catch any dripping. Sometimes I check it to find it half full, and other times I can tell the water has evaporated. Since I live in an apartment, it is not my responsibility to fix or replace it, and heaven forbid the management in this place do so. You know--that would cost money.

  5. Anita, unfortunately just about everything you wrote in this post is true. Perhaps it's that people have begun to settle for second-best? I would rather repair than replace simply because things are no longer made to last. Today, I was using our now 9-year old Hoover vacuum and it is still working just fine and original cost was perhaps $56-60 maybe less. WHY would I want to consider a vacuum (Dyson comes to mind) that cost up to 5-6X more and does the same job? This one works just fine and IF and when it needs to be replaces, I'm getting another Hoover provided they are still being made by that time! Reality TV is not reality in the least and makes me so glad we do not subscribe to any TV services, but read or watch movies instead.

    ps. I agree with your comment about spammers, but doubt they really even read the blogs they leave Anonymous posts on and sm so glad that Blogger sends them to Spam.


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