Before getting my driver’s license, I remember thinking manual gearboxes were an anachronism. Why on earth would someone want to row their own gears when automatic boxes could do it for you? Because it’s worse, and worse is charming.
This affection for worse repeats all over. People buy and adore expensive Swiss mechanical watches, even though a cheap Swatch will keep time better and requires no maintenance. Range-finder cameras take fiddling to adjust focus that auto-focus cameras have long since obsoleted. Vinyl records and tube amps still have lots of hardcore fans.
We come up with all sorts of justifications for this affection for worse. Manual gearboxes give you more control. Mechanical watches are about the craftsmanship. Range-finders have great image quality in a small package. Vinyl on tube sounds warmer. It’s mostly bullshit. Endearing bullshit, but bullshit nonetheless.
My pocket psychology take is that we love anachronisms because they’re imperfect. Like humans are imperfect. We form relationships with people who are flawed all the time. Flaws, imperfection, and worse are all part of the human condition. Tools that embody them resonate.
It’s hard to engineer this, though, but it’s worth cherishing when you have it. Don’t be so eager to iron out all the flaws. Maybe those flaws are exactly why people love your product.