Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Environment and effects

Swami Gulagulaananda said:
"The environment has profound influence on you - Evolution happens, not just as metamorphosis of the body, but also of mind"

I would like to narrate a couple of incidents, using my favourite character Raj again. So here goes:
Raj was done with his exams, and had got his results. He had scored quite good marks, distinction, in fact. Raj was studying in the best college in the state. People around him were some of the best guys in the entire state, and he just sat wondering about his marks. He found that when compared with his classmates, he was exactly in the middle. There were as many people above him, as below him.
As he was thinking about this, his phone rang. He picked it up, and saw that it was his school friend with whom he had not spoken for a long time. "Hey, how have you been? Long time, huh?"  They spoke for quite some time, and then the topic about exams had come. The exams being state level, was a common topic. "How much did you score?" asked Raj. "Oh, I got 65%" 65? Wow, that's not even a distinction, and that was more than 12 less than what Raj had got, around 78. "Why so less? Didn't you study well?" asked Raj, for the girl was actually quite clever. "Hey, I did. Well, all my friends here have got the same, more or less, between 62 to 67. So, it's alright, so what else have you been doing?". The college in which this girl was studying was a different one, not at the same level as Raj's college.
The scores that were scored by that girl and her friends - well, just about a handful were there in his college. Most others were way ahead. Which was why Raj felt that the marks she and her friends scored, were very less - he was comparing his marks with people around him, and they being toppers, made his score seem low, though higher than his friend. While she, on comparing with people around her, was satisfied and didn't understand what Raj was saying.
Raj also had similar experiences in several other places. There was one instance where Raj and a close friend of his had studied the exact same topics for a test, and while Raj was happy that he had studied a lot, the friend, who was a topper, was very worried because he felt that he had not studied anything.

Raj also had another revealing experience, when people around him used to praise his knowledge about something a lot all the time, his new teacher chided him for being so far behind - The reason for this difference is that the benchmarks were different. The people who were praising him were far behind compared to him, and the person who chided him was far ahead of him.

Through these instances, we see that the standards of comparison themselves are different. Nobody is right, and nobody is wrong. But standards and benchmarks themselves are set apart.

There was a comment on my blog posts, saying that I come along too strongly on certain things like, for example, I hate Chetan Bhagat's style of writing, which I feel is too simple and drab - I don't even like to put style in the same sentence as one that has Chetan Bhagat. Well, the only reason his books are popular is that they connect well with the common folk, and his sentences don't need them to put stress on their (puny) minds. Rather, the language reminds them of their own everyday lingo, and they are able to connect with stories like '2 states'. (I feel I can write better than him. Here's a link to some short stories I wrote, judge them for yourselves.) Frankly, any person who has read good books will have feelings like 'nails against blackboard' when they read such irritating material. Understand the difference, simplicity is not what I am against. Sudha Murthy writes in very simple English as well, but her books are a delight to read. Now, here, people will say opinions are different - Hey, you like something, what I like and what you like are not necessarily the same. So, yeah, tastes are different. But I say - It is not tastes that are different, it is standards and benchmarks.

This is also the same reason I hate Kannada songs that are being released currently. Frankly, when you compare them with songs of the past, you will see that the "songs" of now are just merely proses that are being sung by incredibly talented singers with incredibly good music. The lyrics as such is ridiculous. If someone does like it, it doesn't talk about opinions - it reflects benchmarks. If your tastes are inherently poor, you liking such a song will not make it good in reality. It will make it seem good to you - And if you are a person who is happy with mediocrity, then so be it.

There can be no debates and discussions on standards and benchmarks, unless people can see superior things and compare. A person who is amidst 65% people will not be able to appreciate the low scores till he sees a person with 90%. If everyone around you looks like that, then you are just ok with it. For, by definition, it makes it average.

Therefore, people's opinions don't matter if their standards are low


Anish Bhandarkar said...

well said !

but have u noticed that the "people with low standards" almost often think that they r on top of the world. If u told them their standards were low, they mite even laugh at you in surprise !

Thanks GOD we can choose who we hang out with !

Vinayak padmaji said...

But the standards are set by people themselves. I dont think ther it makes sense to classify people as those with "lower standards" and those with "higher standards" as its relative and depends on the one grading people as low or high.

Nik said...

@Vinayak - How is it relative? I have illustrated that the relative is depending on whom your are comparing against. And what is higher and lower are shown by measurable parameters, not human feelings

Prashanth N Bhat said...

The effect is called Dunning-kruger effect.