The best stuff, the worst stuff

Ten years ago, Dustin Curtis wrote a blog post called “The Best” about how he tries to only buy the very best of everything. He gives the example of “the perfect flatware” which costs $50 for a single set.

It’s better to have a few fantastic things designed for you than to have many untrustworthy things poorly designed to please everyone. The result–being able to blindly trust the things you own–is intensely liberating.


Then Moxie Marlinspike wrote a response post called “The Worst” about how it’s actually more liberating to buy cheap stuff you don’t have to worry about. I read this post ten years ago and I still think about it a lot.

Any reasonable person wouldn’t feel liberated by a $50 fork, but constrained by it. One wouldn’t be able to help but worry: is it being cared for correctly, is my friend going to mess it up when absentmindedly tapping the table with it, is it going to get dropped or stepped on if a dance party erupts in the kitchen?

After all, it is the perfect fork, what if something happened to it to make it… not perfect? The point shouldn’t be the cutlery, but the meal — and more importantly the relationships involved with preparing and sharing it.

[…] In a sense, the best suggests that getting the very best of everything will somehow make those things invisible to us. That if we can blindly trust them, we won’t have to think about them. But the worst counters that if we’d like to de-emphasize things that we don’t want to be the focus of our life, we probably shouldn’t start by obsessing over them. That we don’t simplify by getting the very best of everything, we simplify by arranging our lives so that those things don’t matter one way or the other.


In college, I was friends with a guy who would immediately scratch anything new he bought (new phone, new shoes, new car, whatever). He said that way he wouldn’t have to worry about ruining it, because it’s already been ruined. So he can just relax.

To me, it all comes down to spending my money where I spend my time. There are a few things that I think it’s worth obsessing about. Most of them are things that separate my body from the ground. Then maybe a laptop and maybe a pair of jeans.

For almost everything else, I think “the worst” has merit. I don’t want to have to care about my stuff. I don’t want to worry about losing it or getting it dirty. I don’t want to panic when I see my kids using my a spoon from my $50 flatware set as a shovel in the backyard.

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