I have trouble imagining a vast and infinite world. Mark Aldrich asks in I, Toward a Metrics of Me:
Am I my numbers? Am I my metrics of me? Everything in the world can be counted, and that number can be known and disclosed, but more often than not this one fact does not make it information.
I have a metrics problem and it really hampers my imagination. I have more than a fondness for metrics. I love metrics. It is a sick and all consuming love, like Love in the Time of Cholera love, long and storied. In 3rd grade it dawned on me that I was being graded. I think it happened quite quickly. Soon I ached to be measured at every chance available. I complained at home that my 3rd grade teacher Mrs. Dunker didn’t like me because she would not call on me in class. Mrs. Dunker gently explained to my parents that my hand was constantly raised and she was obligated by what I presume would be her teacher’s oath to give the other children a chance. As soon as I knew that metrics were available, I developed an inconsolable need to be measured.
Metrics can be my answer to almost everything. If someone is sassy to me (which is often fancied) and I feel crabby about it, my instinct is to check their metrics and compare. If I am feeling like I’m not performing well at work (which is often fancied), my instinct is to bolster my flagging self esteem and look at my metrics and compare. If I am feeling really great about work, my instinct is to confirm my good feelings by looking at my metrics. You name it, looking at my metrics is the answer I can come up with almost every time.
What is my thinking before I pick up the glass of metrics to my lips? I am certain I will obtain a key piece of information which will unlock the door to enlightenment and finally nirvana. Like I’m going to review the metrics for a few minutes, breath a sigh of relief and think, “Phew, I feel so much better, I can shake that off now and go about my day.” This never happens. But, it always feels like it’s just around the corner, if I look at just one more screen or arrange the metrics in just this way. It is a crapshoot because there are multiple metrics and as soon as I feel good about something, I’ll remember that I also need to look somewhere else, and then it gets confusing and I get tired and the little numbers swim on the screen and I just shut it down and slink away to a corner.
A close friend suggested total abstinence on metric-seeking. I gasped. All the rationalizations and indignation crowded in, raising their hands officiously with questions and concerns. There are some basic metrics, I just have to know. It is a part of my job. But, I agreed to try.
When I came back to work from maternity leave I was feeling very sensitive. I reached for my metrics. My metrics would soothe me. I could cuddle up with my metrics. I would know where I stood and then I would be able to breath, to claim my right to this here employment. I would be able to go about my day with confidence after I had a little metric therapy.
But, the link didn’t work. I shut it down, opened it back up, tried to mess with Internet Options. It wasn’t working. Do I call the Help Desk? Do I ask someone to fix this? That would be going just a little too far considering I had committed to total abstinence . . . I tried to get into that metrics site every day for two weeks, with various and sundry rationalizations, like I deserve to see these metrics and that ended with, I just want to see if that link will work. The link didn’t work. The link was broken.
More than two weeks have passed since I stopped trying to access the metrics. I am living in a Brave New World sans metrics, sans metrics for knowledge, sans metric-seeking. Sans metrics. My world has not fallen apart because of the lack of information. I guess maybe I don’t really need the metrics like I thought I did. The withdrawal of my security blanket is pushing me out of my little curmudgeonly black hole and into the light of day. There are people out here, not just numbers. It’s like the opposite of the Matrix (or the same, I get confused). Sometimes I feel bad, so I’ll call or email a friend instead and talk through it. Sometimes I feel good, so I’ll make plans to go to the spa or do something fun. If I’m bored, I can read my favorite blogs or work on writing. It’s like coming out of living in a black and white movie and the world gets tinted with Technicolor.
The way I interact with my work itself and colleagues and clients is more . . . direct. I’ve removed the middle man metrics, that informed and drove my actions. I feel less the need to be right and drive my point home, maybe because my strong man metrics is gone, and I’m just me. I am listening more to what colleagues and clients and others say when they speak, maybe because my confidant metrics is no longer always whispering in my ear. I feel more inclined to treat people at work with respect, maybe because the concerned citizen metrics is not inflaming my righteousness.
I don’t know. Because my evidence metrics is gone. But, I have a feeling that everything will be just fine.
The featured image is Lunch on the Grass by Claude Monet. All works by Monet (1840-1926) are in the public domain.
One reply on “Confessions of a metric-seeker”
I think this is MY favorite post. Probably because I can relate to it so much. And also because I loved the analogy of picking up the glass of metrics to your lips.
It reminded me a little bit of what I used to do when I was feeling anxious. I would look for statistics that would tell me the thing I feared was very unlikely. I ended up doing nothing but reinforcing the fact that, while improbable, my fear was actually POSSIBLE.
I’d end up feeling worse, rather than better. So then I’d reach out to a loved one to tell me that I had nothing to worry about. But when they said what I was hoping they’d say, I would get mad at them for discounting my feelings.
They were my metrics, but it took me years to figure that out!
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