Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Does mediocrity exist?

Here’s the question I’m pondering today – does mediocrity exist? You’re probably thinking, of course it does. But, if it’s all around us and tolerated by the masses does it really exist. Or more importantly, how is it defined? What’s mediocre to me might be fantastic to you. And conversely what’s mediocre to you might be the exact thing that meets my needs to perfection. So, if mediocrity can’t be defined, how does it exist?

Some recent experiences have led me to this question. I placed an order through Apple for some photo books and unknown to me my address was never completed in my .mac account. It read Valerie Conyngham at Valerie Conyngham, Boston MA. Apple’s system is so automated, as is FedEx’s that the mistake was never caught. My books were shipped to the incomplete address, marked as undeliverable and sent back to Apple to be discarded with the rest of the undeliverable orders. Certainly an incomplete address could have been caught and addressed (pun intended) by Apple if only there were a human involved in the process.

And more recently my Dyson has become mediocre to me. A piece of the space age plastic has broken off; its becoming hard to properly connect the canister to the vacuum base and the bottom of the canister (the part that holds the dirt in) often spills open before the release button is pressed.

These examples represent two companies that until recently didn’t even approach mediocrity to me. But both failed my expectations, more so Dyson than Apple because Dyson’s product failed me. Apple’s only guilt is its (failed) attempt at absolute efficiency. However, I’m sure there are countless thousands who have never had a problem with either company or product and would argue that neither is mediocre; I’ve just had two bad experiences. And does a bad experience constitute mediocrity? It all leads back to the question – does mediocrity exist and if it does what’s the definition? What’s your opinion?

Image by flickr user Dia

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