We all have been at the receiving end and also at the origin of this comparison fallacy and needless to say, no matter how you or try to do something about it, we almost always end up creating another case for comparisons and comparative approaches! Join me here as we take a quick look into this space of what I call as “the comparison pandemic” and decipher when it is ok and when does it begin to slip away from being helpful to being outright harmful! So here we go!
Right from childhood, what individuals normally experience is the ongoing onslaught of comparisons! Irrespective of the fact whether those are valid or not – that is not the primary concern (though a concern, for sure!), the more compelling issue is, why do we do it, encourage it or even allow this bit to propagate- even as each one of us who has lived the life of a child despised it so much. The other aspect around this “comparison pandemic” is that it doesn’t stop with our childhood and this runs deep- at times subtly and at times loudly through our college days, professional lives and even to the moment right upto our graves- because even in that fleeting moment (perhaps a little short of it)- as a human- if you are able to communicate- you still will strive to make that comment which just wants to reinforce the space that you lived a better life than “abc” or “pqr”! Even as comical and harmless it may seem. this “comparison pandemic” plays havoc and has caused perhaps the greatest damage to humanity by stiffing away young innovator’s and humanists even before they could embark on their journey to make humanity a shade better! But why has this been allowed, how did this space of comparing take on these pandemic proportions? Well read on!
Human societies since the bygone ages have been an effort to make the life experienced by the society member better- better in the sense of ease of life- starting right from the primitive goals of being alive (not getting eaten by other predators), then moving on to a life of shifting settlers and further on to eventually be permanent settlers and then go on to develop rapidly into settlements, villages, kingdoms, empires and in today’s contest the nations that we know them as today! Through this journey of the ages- every inflection point (where something meaningful and great would have been achieved) has always been when the normal ways and practises have been reset, improvised or changed completely- at times this has world and yet few other times this has been detrimental for humanity and it is from these spaces of compelling change and transformation and the creativity and destruction that goes along with these period that a vast majority of the social set- felt the urge and need to stick to what was momentarily comfortable rather then wanting to dwell into the risk prone attitude and approach (especially when things didn’t work in the societies favour!) This is the space and context from where the baby steps of the art of “comparing ” perhaps have emerged- as a survival guide more than anything else!
You see, I see you clap your hands, and you are unharmed, I too will want to do that bit and experiment, I see you cut the vegetables and accidentally cut one of your fingers a bit, well, I sure will venture ahead to chop them, but with some caution- it is these kind of everyday observed and indoctrinated ways of life that go a long way to reinforce the comparative approach and once you have become comfortable around this, you have automatically enrolled for a life of mediocre pursuits for yourself and all those who rally around you- simply because you will not move beyond a set range and the reality of life is that all great and iconic stuff happens much beyond the threshold of comfortable range! This is why when you promote the comparative approach- you end up creating intellectual clones who are as smart or as worse as the next one around and then add to this the intrinsic incompetence (which only grows with time) you set up the individual and societies with such individuals for a downward journey and a mediocre approach for eternity!
As Individuals get compared and kind of get calibrated to what is acceptable and what is not, people around often tend to overlook the intrinsic construct of the Individuality of the person and thereby anything of value that can be there is simply walked over and done away with- so once you have someone’s core intrinsic value taken away- by suggesting that what they behold is not needed in the world- instead “be like that person” who does “this or that and there and how” well, you just end up creating a templated robot who is cloned as much as possible to the so called role model! You see, being Inspired or Motivated by people who have been successful or icons is not the problem, it is when these people and their achievements are presented as the only way and approach that an Individual should pursue as their life path, is where problems begin to manifest, simply because, no matter what you do or not, this person can simply be the Master for a thousand reasons- the most fundamental among them being the “contextual settings and truth of the time in which the people lived and worked!
You may want to argue, whatever happens to the whole space around Being Inspired and Being an Inspiration for someone, well, no one is discounting that bit, but if you begin to sell Inspiration with an intent to change a crow into an eagle- you will most probably end up having a very dumb crow which just gets beaten up by the other crows! What the whole “comparison pandemic” ends up doing, is just this, creating asymmetric and unqualified ways of relativity and expectations and when these strike a cord at the fundamental beliefs of individuals- either they become more rebellious to go ahead and assert their Individuality more strongly – a kind of statement which says, “You know what, this is who I am, live with it! or at times they simply crumble and accept a life that is being thrust upon them – like a never ending role play- and with every passing moment- ending up being more fake and disconnected from within and from who they really are- could be and aspired to be!
Well, you may but what about being ambitious, what about trying to be innovative- how can we do that without comparison? Well, no one is asking you, to give up your innovative spark and neither is anyone asking you not to be inspired or learn or observe from what is unfolding around you- what is important is that you don’t end up fooling yourself, thinking that you are being innovative even as you possibly end up copying or cloning some original idea! You see, the whole premise that innovation or iconic stuff needs some comparison is absurd and wrong! If that was the case- we would have all cars similar in design and all what you see around in the world- would have ended up being just copies of some or the other things around and we would have embraced a templated world! That is not the case, isn’t it?
You see, as long as we are able to have clarity about inspiration, contextual truths of the examples around us and are fundamentally aware about who we ourselves are as Individuals, we will be able to keep in check this innocent looking yet dangerous pandemic of comparison! The Human mind is fickle by the very construct of it and what it appreciates at one point in time will be easily junked away as something better comes to it’s purview- this is- believe it or not- the evolutionary safety valve of human thinking- thousands of years back- who would not want to run into an orchard of apples or some wild fruits which could promise an abundant supply to the group, than having to risk every day in and day out their own lives as they went out for a hunting spree!
Comparisons, aren’t all bad, but how they are done, for what and the contexts more often than not make them a nuisance holistically! Not going too back into human history, the recent Covdi19 pandemic was and is a glaring example- how governments after governments went on to copy what the others did and how that ended up screwing up one nation after the another in their won unique ways simply because all similarity with human kind ends with the fact that we are humans and beyond that point each one of is differentiated or levelled to the society that we have got to live around in and as diverse societies try to strike a common line of similarity- almost always the outcome will be disastrous!
Meaningful comparisons stand true in the test of science. The big corporate world- though having its own set of challenges has fared a shade better when it comes to do meaningful comparisons- You see when the corporate world is able to make meaningful comparisons based not on the intrinsic individuality of the people, but rather on the Authority, Position, Span of Control and Sphere of Influence, that is when magic happens and you are able to find it much earlier when teams and people are performing or perishing and the possible why around it becomes easy- as long as the study is on the process and not on the Individuality and Personalities of the Individuals!
Well, to put it simply, comparisons to work, they need to be meaningful and they need identical (not similar) contexts of time and space- everything done without this fundamental attribute under the garb of comparison is plain stupid and is actually meant to drive some or the other human agenda based on what the content of study is and what is being compared and why!
I leave you with these thoughts for now, urging you to shun the space around the “comparison pandemic” in your lives and around you and embrace Individuality of people around you, as much you would like them to reciprocate the same! Just remember- there is a reason why nature is asymmetric and why each one of us is unique- even if you happen to be that Identical Twin- that is how far your similarity will go- rest all is about the matter that the mind beholds within! The next time someone tells you, “You are not like , B or C”, just tell them who you are and possibly reintroduce yourself! Their feeble minds should start working from that point!
Ciao for now, will be back soon with another one, until then stay safe, stay wise and yes- compare what is meaningful enough to compare; everything else, is best the way it is!