On the Limits of Measures


I’m very slowly learning to stop keeping track of things.

Certain things at least: things that have never done much good for me in the keeping track of.

(Yes, one should never end sentences with prepositions. But sometimes, the urge just strikes. It’s my literary equivalent of indulging in a bit of hooliganism.)

Anyway, about not keeping track of things.

Two things I’ve stopped obsessively monitoring (not very successfully all the time, but there’s been progress nonetheless—progress that I do measure) are: (1) my weight; and (2) my blog stats.

The obsession with the weight is an inexplicable one (as most obsessions are) given that I’ve never suffered from or even remotely approached being overweight. But whenever I possess a weighing scale, I use it unusually often—particularly the morning after a heavy meal. I suspect it has to do with my semi-conscious belief (the genesis of which I can no longer trace) that my likeability as a person is a function of several little things staying within their designated parameters—of which my mass is just one. So if I suddenly gain a few pounds or shed a number of IQ points,  then people will erase me from their phonebooks and unfriend me on their Facebook accounts. It might seem a bit silly, but we all have some version of this.

The obsession with the blog stats is much more straightforward: it has to do with assessing my (preferably increasing) readability. It’s a poor measure, I know, since a damaged mouse with an errant cursor can grossly inflate the numbers, but it’s the closest proxy I have available.

And reading it can really mess me up. (Another prepositional end, I know.) A sudden dip in the numbers can have me start entertaining any number of traffic-generating gimmicks (thankfully few due to my relative level of Internet retardation). Still, it conflicts with my intention for setting up this blog: which was to write for the sake of pure self-expression.

And that’s why I’ve stopped keeping track of the numbers. Peter Drucker once said that what gets measured gets done. But some things can get overdone—and one of the worst of them is measurement.

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