Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Appearance vs. Substance

Why do we so often settle for a proper appearance while allowing the substance of an issue to go undiscussed? This happens all the time in politics - a politician shouts about death panels and that is all anyone can hear, or tries to hear, instead of learning how the changes would benefit society. The TSA says it is making us safer by making 4-year-old children and elderly grandparents go through a full-body pat down.* And the media tends to go along. It uses scary voice-overs and shouting anchors to freak everyone out and get worried about situations that aren't much of a problem, instead of focusing on the actual problems.

Which one serves me better? A doctor's office with a lovely waiting room, but an hour long wait for a scheduled appointment, or one with obviously used furniture and a 15 minute wait? How about a website that doesn't have all the latest features, but does have great customer support and an easily found set of contact information, versus a shiny website with a great flash presentation of the goods you are shopping for, but that is terrible to actually use and has no alternate means of contacting the company?  I would rather have the dumpy waiting room with a prompt doctor, and the usable website. How about you?

I am not saying that appearance isn't important at times, because it certainly can be - who wants to use a nasty gas station bathroom if it isn't absolutely necessary? - but why is it so often accepted as more important? Who does it benefit? Certainly not the customer or citizen, certainly not the employees.

How incredibly frustrating this is! There is so little anyone can do about it. Quite often, there is no-one to whom you can complain or offer suggestions in such situations, because if the deciders actually cared, they would have already worked more on the substance. I am not good at letting such things go, which will probably help me worry myself into an early grave; I have to try to fight back, to point out the absurdity of the situation, to yell that the Emperor has no clothes on.  I may get myself in all kinds of hot water because of this (including with my mother - Hi Mom!), but at least I still have that right in this country (for now, anyway.)

*Check out this rather horrifying photo album of just this.

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