The Not-So-Simple LifeI have a confession to make: I am a screen-a-holic.

For a long time I’ve been able to cover it up, by not owning a TV or a cell phone. Most people would think I’m pretty lo-fi…until they see my computer station (and they see that one of my computer’s three monitors is used almost entirely for watching TV and movies.)

Did I say three monitors? Did I say computer, singular? My bad–I was living in the past. My latest configuration consists of three computers with two monitors each. Yes, that’s six screens.

Now before you get down on me–“That’s not simplifying at all, Lance! You said when you started this column that you had reduced your possessions. Reduced, Lance. Going from three to six is not reducing!”–it should be pointed out that this setup actually completes one of the items on my life’s to-do list. So there.

(Now you feel bad for jumping down my throat just then, don’t you? I forgive you. C’mon, fist bump. OK good.)

Granted, it’s not exactly the most monumental or practical of the things on my to-do list…but ever since I started using two monitors on my computer, 7 years ago or so, I’ve had a dream…

You know in action or mystery-thriller movies, how at some point the protagonist(s) end up going to some three-quarters-weird guy who basically lives inside a hub of information and technology, as represented by huge bank of monitors, all showing different stuff on them? He’s the one that can crack the encrypted thing, or tap into the crucial secret feed, or broadcast the important message out. (In pre-digital-age movies, he would have the special light or fluid that makes the message on the back of the map show up, or the ancient encyclopedia with the same picture as that scrap of parchment the hero found.)

Picture that guy, but better looking. :-)

Like I said…it’s not the biggest of my life’s to-do items. (It might even be the smallest.) And it does seem to go against the trend of simplifying (and conservation, and finding social acceptance ;-)). But actually, it has a genuine simplification aspect to it. As crazy as my setup seems, trying to do all that I do on one screen would create a traffic jam of immense proportions; I would spend at least an hour each day just on the task of flipping from one program window to another.

Also, it’s not as expensive and luxurious (and thus as wasteful) as it looks. All 6 monitors and 3 computers cost a total of about $2200 ($1100 of which is my old bear of a computer from 2002.)

A lot of people spend more than that on one computer with one monitor. And what kind of hero would go to someone like that for the key info when the whole plot of the movie is at stake?

A dumb hero, that’s what kind. The smart heroes will be coming to me.

Lance Brown can be followed at, where he is forced to keep his rambling insanity down to 140-character-or-less portions. (Movie heroes: you know how to reach me if you need me.)

This column is featured in The Simplifier #5.14.