Let Me Summarise – Our Love of the Gist

I took this pop-quiz that rates your life. Even while you\’re answering the really straightforward questions, you can make out how you\’re doing. But then there\’s the joy of watching all that in the form of bar graphs and decimals.

We human beings have a strong attraction for summaries. We love the fact that our birth chart can predict when we\’re going to \’drop out\’. We love the thing that the lines on our palm can tell others how screwed we really are. Isn\’t it great that your percentile score in CAT or GMAT can almost accurately predict your pay package in 3 years time and yet reveal nothing about your ethical character?

Corporate honchos have a special love for charts, graphs and figures. They can see their popularity, commission and wife\’s love rise and fall with the revenue and profits graph. I would say that one look at the faces of your employees early Wednesday morning can tell you more about your company\’s performance than all the stats churned out by your overpaid accountants.

\’Screaming Headlines\’ Do headlines really scream? Yes, they do. They scream out the entire story in a few words. Its supposed to attract your attention to the story but what it really does for me is that it tells me whether the story is worth reading. The louder the scream, the more suspect the content. But I too fall into the trap of sensationalism sometimes. News these days is more entertainment than news; more advertisement than information, even if it is about rape, murder and elections. I guess we still read and watch news just because we want a pre-packaged, easily digestible, least involving, distance maintaining, hygienic way of interacting with society at large. Its a hard-to-resist summary of the world around you.

Every religious leader worth his donations account and every prophet worth his sombre look has tried to summarise life for us. Some such aphorisms come to my mind – Love thy neighbour (but don\’t get caught); God is Great (but Devil comes close); Take the Middle Path (but don\’t get crushed). [The words in brackets are not mine but additional notes by charlatans and realists down the ages] Don\’t we just love these lines? Sometimes they inspire, sometimes they simplify and some other times, they rectify. Religion is nothing but spiritual fast food. Pre-packaged, quickly delivered, easily eatable and quite filling. On top of that, inexpensive. Just imagine how much more difficult life would be if each one of us were to develop his or her own personal religion. (But some of us like to rough it out.)

I guess we love summaries because life is too complex to be understood in bits and pieces.

This Is My Life, Rated
Life: 6.5
Mind: 7.5
Body: 7.3
Spirit: 7.5
Friends/Family: 4.9
Love: 1.4
Finance: 4.7
Take the Rate My Life Quiz

Published by Anupam Choudhury

I'm a writer, editor, and blogger from New Delhi, India.

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