Is Life More Than an Extended Game of Top Trumps?

There is a human tendency, based in comparison mind, where people often compare themselves to others. Some want to feel better than others at least in one dimension. Others compare themselves to others and then beat themselves up because according to the chosen metric they are worse than.

This kind of comparison is the basis of the rather inane game of top trumps, in which you are dealt a hand of cards about cars, football players or some other trivia. One then chooses a category and challenges the other players.

Using the cards below if you chose top speed then the Porsche 928 would be the top trump you would win a card from each player. If however, you chose lowest vehicular mass then VW Sirocco GTi would win.

I am not overly fond of games like this, but some people carry them over into real life. They always have to have something with which to trump another.  

Where we lived last, they used to make very fast boats. Literally over the other side of the farmyard this boat was made, and it was back there with smoke generating accoutrements the morning after the London Olympics opening ceremony. The bloke actually driving the boat is the son of our landlord and a professional boat designer and racer.

One of the guys there, at the boatyard, was fond of fast cars as well as fast boats. He had an Audi TT. I bought a Peugeot 208 GTi and he was really excited. We had a long chat and because I knew that he was a humble man, not a dickhead or braggard, we could talk about our respective toys without metaphorically getting our cocks out. The top speed of the TT was a tad higher, and he said he nearly crapped himself when he did it on the Autobahn.

This who is the best, who has the highest ratings is part of higher education assessment and just like top trumps a university can spin itself. We have the highest research assessment exercise rating, our students have the highest satisfaction levels with teaching, ours students achieve the highest median incomes etc.. A real-world version of top trumps is used to market.

People play top trumps about a whole host of things:

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Well junior got two As and a B…

That is nothing Jane got two As and an A*

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Henry is going to UCL

Jack is going to Imperial

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My dad is an Astronaut

My dad is a Buddhist monk

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My dad won the Nobel Prize

My dad can drink a pint of lager in under four seconds!!

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Do you get my drift??

As a little exercise / experiment over the next week or so see how often you play top trumps and see how often people try to play top trumps with you.

Then if you are bold, the next time someone tries to play top trumps simply do not engage.

What do you think will happen?

Comparison Mind is a Root Cause of Suffering

Rational thinking, in other words, ratioing one thing against another is considered sensible in some circles. It can be called reasonable. It is a basis of modern scientific thinking, where one compares hypothesis against experimental data, it is however also reductionist. We are encouraged to weigh things up, to compare one set of data against another. There is a whole bunch of this going on at the moment. For some bizarre reason people are comparing national COVID-19 responses, playing a game of who is better.

In school we are taught to compare things, even in literature. We are ranked according to grade averages. Schools which get their students through exams with a higher grade average are considered better than. Universities who do well in research excellence frameworks are better than, whilst others are worse than. People may even be prettier than or fatter than, uglier than or size zero. Someone might have a nicer more expensive car. This whole notion of comparison is in many cases a rod for our own backs. A rod of judgement, a rod with which we judge our own success and failure. A rod which on occasion we beat ourselves up with.

Comparison mind has permeated out of the theatre of appropriate use and into a mainstream.  It is so widespread, and I’ll wager that it does not bring happiness, peace and acceptance. Because of this abomination the word enough can never be sated. It, comparison, is a part of the gross illusion on the mental plane. People devote and inordinate amount of time to comparing. Who has the nicest arse, the biggest cock, the most plastic surgery? It is more than a little bizarre.

I sometimes refer to comparison mind as top trumps thinking. People look to have one metric with which they can somehow be better than someone else. If you so wish you might even be so bizarre as to call it a unique selling point an USP.

My hypothesis is this:

Comparison Mind is a Root Cause of Suffering

How much time do you spend / waste in comparison?

See I have asked you compare how much time you waste comparing, it is fucking groundhog mind!!