tech, simplified.

You Might Actually Like It Now

Give stuff you don’t like another shot.

There’s a bitter gourd — ma’ra in Thai, Momordica charantia in Latin apparently — that’s rather popular in Asia in soup and a handful of other dishes. You can stir fry the leaves (not bitter), cook the young gourds with eggs or veggies (again, not bitter), or you can wait until it’s full sized and boil it with pork ribs to make soup. The latter is terribly, insanely bitter — or at least so I thought, the first time I tried it when I was 11 or so. I remembered the name just to avoid it.

And, sure, as fate would have it, I’d tried it several times through the years. Same as always, it was bitter. Edible, but bitter enough that I couldn’t imagine why people actually paid for the stuff. But there’s plenty of other great things to eat, so why force yourself to eat it if it’s that horrible, right?

Except it wasn’t horrible. At least not now. I don’t know what happened, but several years ago my now-wife got me to try it again at her parents’ house. So I tried it. You’re not going to refuse food the people you hope will be your inlaws just cooked for you, of course, so I planned to act like I like it.

And then I did like it. Just like Sam-I-Am, that green food wasn’t nearly as bad as I’d thought. In fact, it was so good, I got hooked. It’s somehow gone from the thing that I wondered why it was always on the menu at good restaurants to the comfort food I want when I’m tired and away from home. Life’s strange like that.

Apparently it’s something with long vegetables, because the only food I ever really hated as a young kid was eggplant. Mom had made Parmigiana, and 4 year old me could only think of how terrible it sounded to eat a plant made of eggs. And so, I proceeded to gag through dinner. I was quite the pleasant kid.

Of course, today, take me to an Italian restaurant and order Parmigiana, and I’d be as excited as if you ordered anything else on the menu.

Tastes change.

It’s become a running joke at our house that whenever my wife suggest to try something that I say I don’t like, I’ll end up liking it. And more than often it’s true. Those things I hated as a kid, I’ll love now. The foods I thought were horrible even a couple years ago just might be the thing I love today.

The opposite goes, too. I used to love flavored green teas, until I started drinking premium fresh green tea with nothing else added. Just tea. And I fell in love with it. Now, flavored bottled teas taste like syrup — they’re decent with ice on a hot day, but no match for real green tea.

See, with so many things in life, there isn’t a wrong and right. There’s some things you’ll like more than others, today, but a preference does not a law make. Chances are, you just might like something tomorrow you hated today.

In technology, we’re as prone as anyone to just rooting for our team. I’m not a football guy — at Thanksgiving, I had to admit that I literally only knew the team names and nothing else about Football. For me, Apple and Microsoft, Canonical and Mozilla, Google and Automattic, Realmac and The Soulmen and the dozens of other awesome indie developers — they’re my teams. I root for Apple, mock Android, and immediately assume a new app is awesome if it’s clean and supports Markdown, and horrible if it has a toolbar of buttons and relies on rich text. And I’m not uncommon: it’s the most common thing on the internet.

Perhaps it’s just part of human nature: we pick the things we like, and then pick on the other side just because it’s not “our side”. We’re as bad as kids fighting over which action figure is stronger, only we sound more sophisticated. But we pick our sides so strongly, we can’t come down. You either love the terminal and hate graphics, or can’t imagine ever touching the terminal. You either think touch screens are the end all and be all of technology interaction, or you are so dedicated to keyboard shortcuts you can’t see the point in having mice, let alone touchpads or touch screens.

And yet, there’s good and bad in both iOS and Android. Windows 8, even, isn’t all bad. Markdown is awesome, and focused apps are a godsend, but rich text isn’t evil and toolbars have their place and purpose.

And bitter gourd isn’t so bitter after all.

It’s silly to assume you’ll dislike something just because. So try stuff. You might like it, you might not. Either way, it’ll make you a bit wiser, a bit more open minded, a bit more willing to see why others might not like your favorite thing, too.

It’s a big, interesting, exciting world. You’d be missing out on a lot if you always assumed you’d hate everything.

Originally published in Techinch Magazine Issue 8

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