An important part of being mature seems to be to keep your expectations in check and not to get excitement in check. Everyone overstates the merits of whatever it is they’re hawking, and you should expect things not to live up to expectations. Honestly, no matter how much I try to be a cynic and look at the world this way, I think it’s impossible to fully embrace this as a way of life.
Nobody is born a cynic. It is an acquired mindset. Everybody knows what I’m talking about right now. Most people accept it. Everyone lies on different wavelengths of the spectrum of expectations. Everybody starts at the same point, though.
Now I’m a jaded person. I like to think that I can see through vicious marketing tactics. It makes me feel good when I can prove that a new thing isn’t actually new, and it’s a weird feeling when I’m successful because a part of me dies inside every time things fail to meet expectations. Unfairly raised expectations are often to blame, but people who raise them are to blame for that.
“New and improved formula!” Alright, so what was the swill you were trying to sell me last year?
This jadedness is a shard of broken glass I see things through, sometimes it makes things clearer, but the jagged edges cut me and that feels terrible. Carrying it with me always is also a pain. Preemptive jadedness is a recently acquired habit for me though. New things don’t seem new when you’ve been observing the undulations of a particular industry with a microscope. I’m talking about the mobile tech industry in my case, but after a point this permeates to all aspects of existence.
Including people, and dealing with what we should expect from them. I’ll admit it, it’s impossible for me to expect nothing from people. Which is hypocritical because I don’t do much in terms of expectation fulfillment myself.
For four years as a student of Computer Engineering I was taught about limitations, constraints, and how to make things “fail gracefully” when they just couldn’t deal with expectations, in this case requests or user commands. As a blogger I read about marketers and how people overstate things, products and services. As an end user of said products and services I saw that everything had its drawbacks, and I had to pick the software or hardware that was the least terrible. There was no “best”, there was just varying degrees of terribleness.
As a Masters student, I have to ruminate endlessly about the possibilities of cutting edge technology. Cool as it may be, time and again I’m reminded that things are messy and complicated, and things are not what they seem. I digress.
Why do we expect? It’s because having a mental image of someone’s behavior is a part of human behavior. We have our judgments of people, and knowing how to “read people” has its advantages when dealing with matters pertaining to social life. Expecting in a way reduces the uncertainty of daily life and helps reduce mental load. After all, the human brain can’t deal with uncertainty very well. Overdoing the whole judgment thing has its drawbacks as well, it leads to a tunnel vision and we don’t account for certain possibilities.
Today, I had chocolate milk. Up until now, every single instance of me drinking chocolate milk has ended in disappointment, because when I was introduced to the idea of chocolate milk it was shown to me as a heavenly concoction made of molten chocolate, but whatever I had sampled was more milk than chocolate if anything. This was different. I had one sip and I felt something I had not felt in a very long time. Something had lived up to my innermost expectations. Not general expectations of a milky mediocre mess, but the expectations I had as a child. Molten ambrosia. Nothing less.
This made me think about expectations in general. Should we live with lowered or no expectations at all, for the off chance of something being slightly less terrible than what other things are? Should we just have normal expectations, only for them to not be met and then going through a coping mechanism of regret and cynicism?