Today I am going to explain social relationships with math. Because I’m lame like that. To emphasize how lame I am, this post is going to contain lots of lame drawings, fabricated with Paint.NET. Where shall we start? At the beginning.
This is a Cartesian coordinate system. With unlabelled axes, so, technically it’s crap in a bag and my school math teacher would’ve killed me for it. But as for the sake of the argument we’re abstracting from what the axes could mean anyway, let’s just pretend this is a Cartesian coordinate system. Moving on.
Behold, for the vectors a and b have the exact same orientation! All they differ in is scale. Scale, on the other hand, is something readily ignored by mathematicians. Why? Because scale is only a number and real mathematicians don’t concern themselves with numbers. The numbers, you see, are always there, so if all you need to do to get from complex thing X to complex thing Y is multiply by trivial number Z, then the difference between X and Y is trivial and can, on a theoretical level, be ignored.
Now, if we transfer this into the social space and imagine that vector a represents the opinion of person A, and vector b represents the opinion of person B, we quickly realise that A and B actually share the same opinion. The difference is only one of scale.
- Both A and B are excited in the exact same way, but A is more excited.
- Both A and B are annoyed in the exact same way, but A is more annoyed.
- Both A and B are ready to act, but A is .. uhm .. more impatient, maybe.
The problem is that in practice A and B feel the same say … but not really the same way. They have the same opinion, but A reacts more strongly, expresses themselves more strongly, seeks more pronounced consequences within a shorter time frame. They both see the same, they both think the same, they both want the same (equal orientation), but they differ in approach (scale).
The trouble is that on one hand, A develops a sense of a hero fighting on their own, abandoned by friend and ally, no one able to see their way, no one sensing the dangers and the pitfalls. They feel like they are surrounded by insensitive people, so they think they need to crank up the scale even further, to make them realise, to make them see. Everything turns into impending doom and the end is constantly nigh. On the other hand, B really would like to hug A and say “hey, I’m with you on this, mate”, but the problem is that B isn’t really with A, as the following graph demonstrates.
Despite the underlying difference being only scale, A and B simply do not stand in the same place. So A continues to feel like the lone fighter and B continues to feel unable to give their friend the support they’d like to give. And where does this all lead us? That’s where: