about thresholds

Not those from one state to the other, as much as the fact that this year is approaching its end before I managed to become aware, even moderately, of the age I had reached the year before makes it a tempting subject. What intrigues me lately is an analogy of the pain threshold that I have been toying with in my mind.

While it seems clear to me that people have very different thresholds of physical and emotional sensitivity, which lead to encoding similar experiences very differently at times, I have been wondering if the same can be said about a certain comfort threshold (of course, I would have to find very specific examples of where the two would be different from one another in order to be able to declare that they are different things, but I have the distinct sense that they are).

A comfort threshold would, for instance, be reached/crossed when you decide to walk out of a show on the grounds that it is offensive to you. One person can sit in the same room and not find the show offensive (higher sensitivity threshold, higher comfort threshold); a second person can sit in the same room and find the things in the show offensive (lower sensitivity threshold, higher comfort threshold) but not stand up, either of their own will, because they are determined to find out what the show wishes/claims to convey beyond the surface offensiveness or because they have re-framed their own offense-taking nature as a prudishness they need to get rid of, or because of plain peer pressure or many other reasons and combinations thereof. However, the person who will stand up and leave, not so much on account of the show being a waste of their time (which is a different case than what I have in mind), but on account of it being offensive will be a person going through life with a low sensitivity and a low comfort threshold in the realm of what is acceptable in social interaction, I dare theorize. And I suppose one can apply a similar algorithm to the dissection of sensitivity from comfort in the realm of shoe-provoked blisters, sun in the eyes, length of the winter, amount of family drama, corruption tolerance, consequences of the freedom of speech in general… the list could go on forever, especially since a low comfort threshold in one field can only predict a similar threshold in a couple of related areas, but it doesn’t say anything about a person in general.

You would think there was a point to all this. You would think I am thinking of this possibility in order to imagine societal conditions that generate more low thresholds and therefore more conflict and unease. Or else that I am figuring out a concept that could be useful in order to understand my immediate family. I’m sorry to disappoint again, I’m operationalizing randomly.


Un gând despre “about thresholds

  1. In the field of „audience/spectaor study” I even immagined a operational concept really similar with yours: „acceptanta” (rom.). And I ussualy offer a direct or written exercise – about analysing one’s limits to accept and aestethically assume (or not) the disconfort and/or offensive images or language, or situations during a show or another. So… we think the same.

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