The Concatenator

The problem with positivism

We all know the phrase 'it's not a problem, it's a challenge'. At the end of a telephone call, in which the customer has gone completely berzerk filing his complaints, you don't look at it as a problem, you quickly transform it into a challenge. When a customer returns a faulty product to the shop and clearly makes his point that he is totally dissatisfied with it, you smile behind the counter and recognize that this is not a problem but an opportunity. The two terms -problem and challenge- have become so interchangeable that they are almost synonymous with eachother. Although it will probably still be awkward in a job interview to state that you like problems instead of challenges.
The source of this behaviour seems to be in not wanting or liking to give the situation a negative mark. Everything has to be transformed to a positive approach. We don't like a problem (negative), but we do like a challenge (positive). Assuming that all challenges have a positive part in their core. We do stumble upon this transforming from a negative stance to a positive one, or even omitting the negative altogether, more and more in every day life. In the beginning of the ICT era you had problem solvers, later they turned into solution providers. Same function, a different label. We don't commit to a task for 100% but for 120 or even 300%, no problem. A product has a value, but that's not enough, it has to have added value. In Facebook the main action is to like stuff, you can't dislike stuff. And Google has the +1 button, but no -1. The argument is dead simple here: if you don't like it, then just don't click it. That's true of course, but the point is that you never actually see the dislike score (YouTube being the famous exception here). And if the argument goes something like this: 'but that's not the point, to dislike something' then that's exactly what's happening, that's the point of omitting the negative and only showing the positive.

But is it really that bad? Or to lift the question to a higher plan: we all want to be part of a better world? We all want more +1 than we want -1, don't we? Of course we do, there's no denying that. But it depends on what role you're playing, on what side of the counter you are standing. If you are the customer returning the faulty product, then this is a real problem for you, that's why you are dissatisfied in the first place. Not that many customers will approach the service employee with the words 'Take your time, I'm not in a hurry. Just look at it as a challenge'. Facebook and Google Plus are social platforms where you share information with your friends. Of course you're talking about positive stuff, you don't want to address negative issues or talk about problems all the time.
But that's precisely where the challenge, uhmm problem stems from. We are constantly maximising, through our language, the world around us. Everything has to be better, faster, more powerfull, etc. But at some time, somewhere reality kicks in. Why is it so terrible to mark something as a problem? To indicate errors or malfunctions as problems instead of labeling them positively. To restore the problems in our daily lives and address them properly is the real challenge. The Concatenator symbol refers to these high and lows, they are reflected in the ups and downs of every day life. They are part of our life and complete the picture of what makes us man. The negative moments are part of our live as well and are a prelude to better times. And if we keep working on the problems and marking them as problems, then the world will slowly become a better place to live in. Historically, that's how progress always has taken place.


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