It seems that all advice these days is packaged as a “hack.” There are kitchen hacks, garden hacks, travel hacks, gaming hacks, tech hacks, organization hacks, storage hacks, fashion hacks, DIY hacks, beauty hacks, writing hacks, cleaning hacks, life hacks, and “real” life hacks, – and those are only the first ones I came across. I have no doubt there are many others. In short, there is most likely a book or site that will fill you in on “hacks” for wherever your interests lie. (I do have to admit to being puzzled about the difference between life hacks and “real” life hacks, though. I have a sneaking suspicion that perhaps “real” life is what happens to adults, and so perhaps one could assume that those “real” life hacks are for serious situations, only? Like how to get up for work or school?)
When I first became aware of the term “hack,” I was curious and wondered what made these things called “hacks” special. Why all of sudden were there proliferating books and websites promising “hacks” that would change my life – make it simpler, more glamorous, more exciting, more something. Had someone discovered a magic wand, a time machine, a real-life Mary Poppins who could get the house to clean itself?
Alas, I didn’t need to read very far before realizing that these “hacks” are merely Goodhousekeeping Hints from Heloise or Betty Crocker tips from the 1950s, repackaged for this latest generation.
I would say these kids have been had. They have been taken in Big Time. These “hacks” are simply common sense combined with the wisdom their parents gained from their grandparents. Had they listened to their parents or the adults in their life in the first place, they would have already known these things.
But, millennials don’t like “tips” or “advice”; they already know everything. They want to “hack” the system – that is break into it and change it – and show the rest of us how smart they are. Hence, the birth of a new usage for the word “hack.” To millennials this word hints at new ways and fresh ideas. It makes me smile because formerly, when “hack” was used as a noun, it referred to someone who produced banal or mediocre work for money.
Someone – a mere hack in a publishing house, perhaps – was smart enough to rip the cover off the book that said “Tips for Everyday Living” or “Advice for the Kitchen Beginner” and call it “100 Life Hacks” or “20 Amazing Hacks for the Kitchen.” Now that is marketing genius, and what makes it even more genius is that the current received wisdom for the millennial generation is that they are allergic to marketing. They don’t want to be “sold” or “spun” on anything. They want everything they touch to be “authentic.”
I am not too proud to admit that reading through some of the “authentic” advice on these “hack” websites, I came across a tip I had never heard before: adding a raisin or two to flat champagne or sparkling wine would restore the fizz. Now, while there is rarely an unfinished sparkling bottle about the place, should that happen, this is definitely a hack I can appreciate.