Optimize is a big word. Some people like to conjugate it in the first person to feel the efficiency flow through their bloodstream. Every corner of life is capable of being optimized; That is why, as a wise man said on Twitter, no matter what you have studied or what your vocation is, you will end up filling in Excel sheets. During 2022 anyone has been able to spend 30% of their working day using that program, according to a report by The Key Cuts. Whoever understands Excel correctly will be 4.5 times more productive in all aspects of his life. Whatever that means.
There are those who only trust mathematical formulas and maintain that absolutely everything can be simplified in a number. They need a number that saves them from confusion and guides them towards the light, and they open an excel to take love to the field of efficiency and choose —with objective criteria— the candidate who brings them the greatest benefits. The weekly The Economist, which devoted an extensive report to the matter, calls them “relationship optimizers.”
An example of an excel sheet to determine which of the candidates would be the optimal to share the life could include the attributes of the ideal couple. Each would be assigned a specific weight and compared to other qualities. For example: height, attractiveness, sexual connection, financial intelligence, good conversation. In one of the examples used by the British weekly, satisfying sex accounts for about a third of the value of a pleasant conversation, because, argues the author of the spreadsheet, one is likely to spend more time talking to their partner than having sex. . This user completed a list of 15 qualities valued according to their tastes and needs. A very subjective exercise in any case, by the way. When the journalist from The Economist let him know, his response was blunt: “An estimated number will always be better than having none.” Jacob, which is the name of the Excel addict, evaluated his lovers according to each attribute multiplied by their specific weight, then added them up and got a final grade from 0 to 10. A number that for him is reliable, since he eliminated from the equation emotions and other weaknesses of love. But in the end, as much as he squeezed Excel, Jacob couldn’t decide fairly between the two highest-scoring candidates.
The philosopher Daniel Innerarity is not surprised: “There are protocols, rules and procedures that help to make decisions, but human situations are usually to some extent resistant to fitting into that normalization. Kant and Wittgenstein already said that humans do not dedicate ourselves to applying rules and when we do we always introduce something personal to the same extent that the situations have some complexity”.
When I tell Mariela Michelena, a couples psychotherapist, Jacob’s story, her first question is: “And does that work?” In her consultations, she finds so much confusion that she is willing to empathize with those who embrace mathematics with the illusion that this higher power decides for them. “It is a childish attempt at control because we always choose based on things about ourselves that we don’t know. She chooses herself blindly, but for a reason. Just because we don’t know it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.” Mathematics bring peace to a world where everything is on sale. “Everything is low cost, relationships are easy to get and even easier to leave. There is a clear devaluation of the links, and that brings people upside down”, sums up the psychotherapist.
Jana N. had to enter her data in an excel to visualize her sexual life. She in a column she introduced the basic information: name, date and place of the meeting. In another she listed her favorite sexual practices with a checkbox to put “yes” or “no”. In the following register if toys had been used and which ones and, finally, if there had been an orgasm, one or more. One last column was used to write down miscellaneous items: if the day was rainy or if the partner in question was too drunk. In a last tab was the monthly summary where the sexual encounters, the reached orgasms, the bedmates and which of them had left the best taste in his mouth were recorded. That’s how she discovered that she with her favorite lover — “the one that makes me look like an idiot” — she only had orgasms between 60% and 80% of the times that were left. She takes it as a good sign: “He doesn’t push me; If I don’t want to, don’t insist, I consider it an original and fresh behavior ”, she specifies via e-mail. Jana discovered that the place where she had the most orgasms was her own bed (96%) and that one night sex almost never left her satisfied. “My spreadsheet helped me not to go blind and improved my sex life,” she sums up.
People who work with Excel sublimate its benefits. They are not legion, but they are not a tribe of nerds either. They started by opening a spreadsheet to be aware of their hours of sleep, their daily steps and their protein intake, and ended up trying to bring order to one of the most ambiguous and perplexing areas of modern life: sex, finding a partner. . Any of us could dive into a crash course in Excel tomorrow…or this afternoon.