Essay:
Can’t Hack It Anymore
If you can hack a computer’s software, can you hack a person’s life?

  • Words Hettie O'Brien

Wake up. Make your bed before drinking a cup of “titanium tea” mixed from two varieties of leaf, a tablespoon of coconut oil, grass-fed butter and a pinch of turmeric. Meditate for 20 minutes, followed by a two-minute decompression period. Complete 20 minutes of light exercise and spend five minutes committing your thoughts to the pages of a journal. You are now ready—finally—to begin the day. This may all sound excessive, but these instructions form the morning routine of a prominent member of the “life hacking” community, whose net worth is reportedly $100 million, and who claims his most productive working hours are between 1 a.m. and 4 a.m.

For some, the challenge of being constantly productive in an increasingly demanding world is akin to rewriting a piece of software to make it run more reliably. And just as computer programmers learn the rules of a system and then exploit “hacks” to subvert its mainframe, the emergence of a movement of life hackers in the earl...

1. Questionable life hacks that did the rounds in the early aughts include the following: Using tea bags as hand warmers; using a fork as a spoon by covering it in tape; freezing slivers of toothpaste to serve as after-dinner mints; using sanitary pads as hip padding.

2. All lifestyle trends have their own life-span. In late 2019, after a decade of counseling people to declutter their houses, Japanese tidying guru Marie Kondo surprised devotees when she opened an online store selling ornamental computer cleaning brushes and flower bouquet tote bags.

ISSUE 52

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