This weekend we had a localization camp where I was presenting about the oddities that we face while translating user interface messages. Before I proceed further, I’d like to clarify that this post is not about the camp (that would come sometime later). Rather this is about something that I mentioned during my presentation. About why we spent time, efforts, money twisting things to fit into a presentable shape. We do so because it affects our choices. The flexibility to choose the least inconvenient alternative.
Everyday we are faced with myriad choices which range from the seemingly trivial to universe shaking ones. Should I wear the blue or the black tee this morning? Do I run to the bus stop or walk a little fast? Is it ok to take a coffee break now or in another 5 minutes? What goes best with my lunch – tomatoes or fries? Should I put in my papers now or slog it out for another 25 days? You get the drift. And how does one go about making them? Speaking for myself, primarily I am a heart-governed person. I believe in spontaneous actions which are more natural and are not diluted by calculations. At an younger age, this was tipped more towards fallacy. Later, the urgency of actions is significantly controlled into a balance, by the worldly wisdom gathered over years. However, the after effects of these choices eventually still hit the heart. In all sorts of ways.
The natural choice while picking an alternative is to lean towards the one that would present the least amount of pain. Or perhaps spare oneself of a higher degree of inconvenience. pjp has a meticulous equation for this:
choice = incentive x convenience
Effectively, each alternative course of action throws up the potential outcomes and possibilities, mostly derived from past happenings. If eating fries for lunch gave me a burst of pimples on the left cheek – twice, I’d naturally be disinclined to make that choice. Nipping the possibility of exploring whether on the third attempt I would get the pimples of the right cheek or nothing at all.
Unfortunately, choices we make about people come with a significant amount of baggage. And most importantly they come with responses. Fries won’t come sobbing back to you if you remove them from your tray. People on the other hand may go through a turmoil of emotions, based upon the choice you make. You could make them feel important, happy, relieved, disturbed, discarded, or even traumatized at times. While making our choices I wonder if we weigh these potential responses or just go by what would make our own lives less worrisome. i.e. the less the worry, the more the incentive to choose that option.
At times these choices come back to haunt us. For their harshness. Guilt. Sometimes even for the detachment and defeat we concede. Especially when the only way out is to crawl into a shell (and in the process also say goodbye to civilities), disrupt our own lives with significant inconveniences, because the other alternatives are loaded with ammo to scathe us further. And I am scared of them. It beats me, about whats really the incentive when faced with a lose-lose situation. Its definitely not peace of mind, neither is it martyrdom.
Iss kadar tha bekhabar, ke khaam kha aazma liya
Sau duayein bech kar, maathe ka boja paa liya