Go Compare . . .

I can’t help putting those words to a tune, and the one I think of is the First World War song ‘Over There . . . the Yanks are coming . . .’ etc.

I don’t know anything about opera, but the tune may have come from there in the first place, given the character in the advert.

(If you don’t know what I’m talking about you obviously don’t have a TV or radio!)

The title is of course the name of a ‘comparison website’ of which there are many, the ads for which are usually better than the experience they offer when you engage with them

You see it’s not really about the result of the comparison that takes place which matters but the criteria used for the comparison and whatever is being compared.

The thing is – humans are almost always engaged in ‘comparison’. We do it all the time, and so do almost all other animals, including insects.

Survival relies on the ability to compare things or situations and make judgments according to what we are attempting to achieve, whether that’s the next meal for a pride of lions, a ‘better deal’ for our broadband, or even a life partner.

If you and I stopped comparing things and situations we would quickly grind to a halt and cease to function. Not only is it an essential survival skill, it also enhances (or otherwise) quality of life.

Because comparing stuff is one thing but the decision making based on and resulting from that comparison is another.

Indeed, the reason why we compare one thing or situation against another and continue to do it in a succession of comparisons is to make a decision.

It’s a key part of the ‘buying process’ and the matching ‘sales process’ (which of course apply to everything we do)

We make decisions based on our comparisons and then we choose what action to take – sometimes seemingly disregarding the process and choosing something else – but all that means is that we’ve just changed our comparison criteria.

You see, you and I can compare lots of things at once on a holistic way, whereas a computer, even ‘artificial intelligence’ can only make binary decisions one at a time. We would quickly ‘lose the plot’ if our brains worked like that when we were comparing things.

But is there anything we don’t ‘compare’?

Some say we shouldn’t ‘compare’ people; that people are all ‘equal’ – and then mistake ‘equal’ for ‘the same’.

‘Equality’ has nothing to do with ‘sameness’ because by our very nature we are all different – unless we were a society of clones with identical DNA.

Neither has it anything to do with role, purpose, function or intention so long as we remain able to decide and choose those for ourselves.

The idea of ‘equality’ is a reaction to comparison, or to be specific comparison against a ‘scale’ – comparison that says ‘person A’ is better than ‘person B’ for some reason.

Some people ‘perform’ better than others – if we were to deny this then we’d have to ban all sports and games, we’d have to totally reorganise how we worked – importantly we’d have to deny the existence of any form of talent.

In effect we’d have to stop comparing altogether.

The answer perhaps is to replace the idea of a ‘scale’ with that of a ‘spectrum’.

After all we cannot say that blue is ‘better’ than red. It’s certainly different, but it’s part of a spectrum of colours that work together.

It’s the same with the Jungian personality types. Is a ‘Green’ better than a ‘Yellow’ for example?

Like the colour spectrum of course these types all merge together, there are no discrete ‘separations’, no point where one ends and the other begins.

It’s the same with people except where artificial divisions have been created by religion or politics; but even then there are gradations.

We do however need to be careful of the criteria we use to compare things, and people. They must be fair, just and honest and not based artificially on some political or religious dogma which is from where all the ‘problems’ with comparison arise.

When we compare say, someone’s ‘behaviour’ or anything else we need to ask ourselves ‘compared to what?’

Compared to some set of rules (made by whom?), compared to some ‘scale’ (invented by whom?), or perhaps just to what we, individually ‘like’ or ‘approve of’?

Because there’s the heart of it.

It’s our own personal ‘likes and dislikes’ which are more often than not the basis for our comparisons. If we say ‘she is better then him’ we may just be saying ‘I like her more than him’ – and the same applies to the supermarket we go to, the energy supplier we use, or the job or business we choose.

So before you or I make a choice, based on a decision, based on a comparative process we must first decide on the criteria we use to make those comparisons.

Otherwise we might just as well choose the first thing (or person) we encounter.

Which could be amazing – or could be disastrous!