Can you think of some really bad inventions? Of course you can. For all of us, there are probably different products and ideas that come to mind first. Maybe you think blimps are the most belligerent things to ever take flight. Maybe you think Curling is an embarrassment to the winter Olympics. Perhaps you had a lava lamp break once and now you’re forever biased. (Maybe you like all of those things. Who knows?) Well, whatever your contention, consider these: single-purpose items.
Single purpose items are good for only one thing: one thing. There are exceptions, but most single-purpose items are benign (and for some reason, a lot of them are found in the kitchen). Take the egg separator, for example. The egg separator doesn’t do anything else! I guess you could spank your kids with it, but that’s about it! I’m not making fun of anyone who has an egg separator, just enlightening them. It does exactly what people have always done with their fingers. Or better yet, the egg shell itself. Yep, the amazing egg even has a separator built in!
How about the fly swatter? There’s one that’s stood the test of time! When you first buy a fly swatter, you could probably use it for many different things. But once you swat that first fly, are you really going to see how cool it would be to flip a pancake from a distance? I don’t think so. (In case you’re wondering, yeah, you could probably spank your kids with it, too.) The fly swatter is just like the egg, though. When a fly is bothering you, you don’t want it to get away, so you just grab the nearest magazine or flip flop.
Then again, there are some things that should only have one use. Like the gas pedal on your car. Imagine your pedal working like your gear shift. That would be scary. Also, I’m content with my stapler just being a stapler and my letter opener neatly opening my letters (actually, my bills (they should change the name to bill opener)).
There is something, although rare, that is more embarrassing to society than single-purpose items. That is, multi-single-purpose items (I made that up, I think.) It’s something that was originally used for only one reason, now used for a completely different reason, and no longer used for what is was for in the first place. I’m sure you can think of one if you try hard enough. Here’s one: the cow bell. It was designed to hang around a cow’s neck so they couldn’t wander off without being heard or simply to help find them if they get lost. Now it’s a musical instrument (and an extremely tacky one, at that!)
So next time you’re buying a kitchen gizmo or something and asking yourself, “do I really need this?” I implore you to ask a greater question: “Does the world really need this?”
By: S. Cole Garrett