The Plus & Minus system

What is it that makes your best friends; your best friends? Is it their sense of humour? Possibly! Is it what you have in common? To an extent! What makes someone your best friend is down to nothing at all except for our belief in the concept of having best friends at all. You may have lots of friends that you meet over the years but only a few will make it into the special “best friends league”. Many people from my observations will either give no thought to this and will just have 500+ friends that they go partying with or they will have a select few individuals that met the passing criteria.

It is my belief that this criteria for finding true friends can fall down to a system I call “The Plus and Minus system”.

How it works – this system might sound a bit Marxist but it is useful to explore as a thought experiment. The concept is that every time you engage with someone they get a score which is hidden, you decide the score and every time they engage further with you the score changes.

If you meet someone for the first time they start at a neutral zero. Every time they do something positive they award points and anything negative you take away points. How you reward or take away points is up to you. Below is a typical system of awarding:

You receive a message on your Facebook wall to say happy birthday  (+1)

You receive a card with a preprinted message (+5)

You receive a hand written letter with a message tailored to you (+10)

The scoring system will go on in your own head, and you will remember some of the scores you gave. Alison at work when she always talks nonstop about grandchildren may be firmly in the negatives for a young teen but in the positive for a new mum as they can exchange notes.

If someone is deep in the negatives you must really hate them, but on the flip slide they would probably vote you as negative too so it’s equal scoring both ways. It is not to say that you or they are wrong for being in the negative it is just the way this subjective system works.

Scoring bias – We all know that person who scores someone way up in the dizzy heights for no reason. I have seen people in their 20s talk about their grandparents as “the best people in the world” and flood their Facebook with such claims. You meet them and you don’t understand all the fuss. Sometimes you will score high because you’re looking through rose tinted glasses. This shows that you can score in a warped way that could be later disproved to yourself. When you’re two and your gran bakes you cookies she is 300+ when you taste them again at 30 you realise how dry they are but you still love her for it and it becomes a 25+ instead.

Typical low scorers – If you apply this system you can learn what you value in people the most. If music is your passion; when someone cannot keep up with your conversation (because they don’t know who Paul Simon is) you sigh and mentally mark them down. After a few more attempts you realise that you have sufficiently kept them at their low score, and after possibly hundreds of attempts allowing them to redeem themselves; you realise this person is never going to be close to you. If you apply this system you will notice trends of particular things that award low scores such as people who use the word “Literally” in ever single sentence. You won’t always be right but sometimes just as much as overhearing a phrase will convince you this person is a low scorer before you’ve even spoken to them properly.

Why this system is bad for us – as demonstrated in the last section the scores will change as we change. There may be the intention to keep people deep in negatives for no good reason. Children at school make rash scoring choices, and unfortunately some children will be marked into deep negatives just because they have cheap school shoes.

As adults we are still making unfair sweeping judgements on people. What is important to you is what guides your score but we have to learn how to score in the correct way. Is the person decent? Yer okay you don’t watch gossip girl and your favourite band isn’t Girls Aloud, but does she listen to you and make an effort with other people? Does this girl act in an altruistic and virtuous way?

We must learn to be responsible for our scoring and take more notice of how we cast our votes. Remember that people are trying to be affable with the best qualities they have, even if they aren’t to your taste. We cannot expect people to be instinctively trying to impress us. If you listen to people and try hard to see who they really are you will always find goodness in others and then it won’t be so difficult to give good scores!


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