The world, how it works, surroundings, myself, etc.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

The perils of Over-Expression

Over-Expression is a routinely occurring phenomenon in world order these days. Things are often over-stated. Communication, it turns out, takes place mostly in the superlative sense. For instance, if the mess food is bad, one might label it as intolerable even though it would have been quite agreeable a meal. Most advertisements promote their products as the best of its kind. Mediocrity is infamous. Average expression is unheard of, though average quality is not uncommon. As if the superlative band has expanded to gobble up the average band.

There are a number of factors which lead to such a world order:
  • Strong feelings
This is the case in which things are over-stated without intention or deliberation. One might have a deep attachment with something which one sees getting damaged and therefore reacts voluptuously. One doesn't see the larger picture here. For instance, the recent MMS imbroglio in which a college student was caught selling (potentially) obscene stuff was a clear depiction of emotional outburst. Several people saw it as a misuse of technology. Some other stringent-minded people, however, viewed it as an attack on the women race -- as if this was the last straw and they had no choice but to demonstrate vehemently their outburst. World order becomes an exception for a while. Clearly, the entire scandal was over-advertised. Other significantly severe abuses of women's rights go unheard of while this one attains herculean proportions. Such narrow-minded syndrome needs a broader and beyond-the-sight therapy. There is more than meets the eye (or even emotions/hearts).
  • Partially deaf reaction mechanism
Owing largely to insensitiveness to routine behavior, normal expression goes unheard. Unless a situation is expressed in leviathan proportions, it doesn't beat anything on the ear-drums of the people involved in the reaction mechanism. For instance, a stoic complaint made to the telephone department for a non-functional line would have large chances of going amiss. Same for a complaint for preparing a faulty electrical line. However, when the situation assumes titanic proportions (dharnas, bandhs, etc), the reaction mechanism springs to action in a whisker. Call it nature but the bottom line is that humans are surprisingly adaptable and react only when over-expressed (damage mode). Computers, however, don't work in this damage-control mode. They continue with the routine mode equally well even after millions and millions of repetitions. Perhaps, therefore, it'd do good to replace reaction mechanisms with automated (lifeless) controls.

A very commonly occurring example of all this is with the operation of the AC in my lab. Instead of keeping the temperature to an agreeable value, it's often kept intolerably low. This is when it's hot and the AC is just started. As expected, the room starts freezing in a while and then someone would just pop up and switch it off (instead of increasing the temperature to the agreeable value). And the room heats up again. Greedy desire of instantaneous results leads to this cycle being continued, even though in a long run it is far from optimal.
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