Thursday, 6 June 2013

Simulating disappointment

Here’s an exercise:
  1. Pick somebody whose writing or speaking you find personally insightful or inspirational.
  2. Imagine that this person's latest book or TED talk contains nothing of what you originally found inspirational about this person, but does have a lot of fart jokes.
Now, fart jokes might be fun and all, but they're perhaps not the reason why you originally looked up to this person.[1] You might have one of these reactions:
  • You might find that you can like and respect them for whatever the original thing was and for their fart jokes.
  • You might be disappointed. Perhaps this is because you don’t like fart jokes in general. Or perhaps because you can get fart jokes of that calibre in a whole bunch of other places and might not have so many other places to get what you originally looked up to this person for.
  • You might like their fart jokes better than their original material. 
In any case, if the new fart jokes prove popular, chances are you’re going to run into a whole bunch of people raving about what a great fart-joke teller this person is. If you were already disappointed that somebody whom you found insightful and inspirational before is now mostly famous for telling fart jokes, you might feel even more disappointed now.

This exercise is intended to model how I feel about J.J. Abrams’ two Star Trek films. If you don’t get why some folks (like me) are really disappointed and annoyed by them, I hope it provides insight.

[1] Of course, it could be that you admired the original writer or speaker because of their fart jokes in the first place. In this case, choose a different writer or speaker—whom you admire for a different reason—and try the exercise again.

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