Be warned: We have entered the age of over-reacting

By Nury Vittachi

A colleague accused me of having a tendency to over-react, so I have no choice but to burn down his house and curse his family for seven generations. Fair’s fair, right?

I learned to respond strongly to things from a former boss who used to say the following sentence at least once a day: “Some idiot has moved my (random object) and when I find out who did it, God help me, I am going to tear him limb from limb with my bare...oh, there it is.”

Some people think overreacting is a bad thing, but look at the evidence. The richest country in the world is the United States, from which a reader has just sent me a video of a man riding a moped pursued by 12 police cars. A moped, for those who don’t know, is a motorbike powered by an engine with the strength of a mosquito suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome. I had a moped once, but gave it up after it went from being considerably slower than walking, which I didn’t mind, to being considerably slower than standing still, which I did mind.

But just days later, the US record on maximum overreaction was beaten by a news report sent to me by a reader in Cada. Twelve police squad cars and a tactical attack squad were sent to a block of flats in Winnipeg, Ontario, after an unknown person slammed a door in the building. Cadians are so mild-mannered that the sudden dramatic noise caused residents to dial the emergency services.

This makes me want to live in Cada. I’ve lived in places where the police don’t even react to murders unless they happen at the actual police station, and even then, the only reaction is an irritated desk sergeant looking up from Candy Crush and raising an eyebrow.

I asked regular contributors for similar examples from Asia, but drew a blank. The only response was from a European reader, who said police raced to a house in Norway after neighbors heard screaming. It turned out to be a chess-player expressing fury at his chess computer. In Asia, we wouldn’t get that excited about the end of the world.

A colleague says Westerners are more like dogs, enjoying getting excited, while Easterners are more like fish, watching life go by without saying a lot.

It must be wonderful to be a fish. At the end of a tough day they think: “Geez, I really need a drink.” And there’s a drink right there.

Your rrator eventually stumbled on an example of overreaction from Asia - in my son’s anime cartoons. When something negative happens, waterfalls flow from the characters’ eyes and when the hero sees a pretty girl, his nose starts bleeding. This must be a Japanese-only genetic mutation which explains that country’s drastic population slump.

Meanwhile, here’s a message to my colleagues in the sub-editing department. “You may be thinking of changing a word or two in my column. In which case I may have to cut you into cubed, diced pieces to scatter over a wide area of remote scrubland, laughing maniacally.” I mean, fair’s fair, right? (IANS)

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