Non Productivity

Compounding Small Variations

A tiny variation between two numbers compounded many times results in a huge variation between the two numbers when the compounding ends. The example that easily comes to mind is the difference between 0.99 to the power of 365 and 1.01 to the power of 365. The calculation results in the 0.99 being reduced to 0.03, while the 1.01 rockets to 37.78. All on the basis of a measly 0.02 difference! This equation has been used to describe the massive variation in business outcomes between two people linked to just a small difference in input energy every day (only giving 99% at work vs. giving 101%). Depending on what side of that 100% line you reside, that tiny variation has a huge effect over the long run.

In light of my earlier post about Facebook’s predominantly negative effects over time, the above equation seems apt. A message or comment that is slightly embellished – portrayed better than it was, but not by much (hey, it’s 99% accurate) – done every day for a year fundamentally undermines the quality of the shared space (the relationship) that exists between two people. If each started out with perfect understanding of each other, but one started to be slightly less than 100% truthful in the way they represented facts / meetings / feelings, that shared space is going to almost completely disappear after a year. In a close friendship or relationship where triangulating viewpoints are available, the person at 99% can be confronted about his or her lack of complete truthfulness. In a Facebook-mediated world where all those triangulating viewpoints are not available, slight falsehoods will destroy friendships much more rapidly.

Misunderstandings multiply. Differences divide. Suspicions skyrocket. Trust terminates. And Facebook is right there in the middle of the mess.

Categories: Non Productivity