The Butterfly Effect

Seemingly insignificant events can have significant consequences. That is the Butterfly Effect.

Edward Lorenz, American mathematician and meteorologist, used the term to explain that small differences in the initial condition of a dynamical system may set off a series of events which causes changes in the long term behaviour of the system.

The flapping of a butterfly’s wings might cause tiny changes in the atmosphere that may result in the path of a tornado being altered.

While the butterfly does not “cause” the tornado in the sense of providing the energy for the tornado, it does “cause” it in the sense that the flap of its wings is an essential part of the initial conditions resulting in a tornado, and without that flap that particular tornado would not have existed.

I find the Butterfly effect to be a fascinating idea. Edward Lorenz was theorizing about material effects. But what if the concept were applied to the effects of a person’s thoughts and ideas on others?

We bloggers express ourselves through our words. I like to think that these words may cause a butterfly effect. They may influence readers in ways which cannot be predicted. We cannot trace this effect, nor can we influence its path. Likewise, we ourselves may also be influenced, perhaps unconsciously, by the words of other bloggers.

This flapping of our wings is a mild kind of action, a temperate influence. It is not the ranting and shouting that is heard on television news channels.

It may cause just a gentle breeze, a minute altering of direction of thought. But it may lead to great changes. We would probably never know for sure. What do you think?

Today this blog completes two years. When I started blogging I did not expect to continue writing posts for this length of time. This give and take of ideas with fellow bloggers is what motivates me most to continue blogging.

I have met a few blogger friends in real life. But most, I know only through the posts on their blogs, and their comments on my blog and other blogs. Many blogger friends live in places far from my city, some even in other countries.

But, as the Subhaashitkar says-

गिरौ मयूराः गगने पयोदाः,
लक्षान्तरे अर्कः च जलेषु पद्म l
इन्दुः द्विलक्षम् कुमुदस्य बंधुः
यो यस्य मित्रं नहि तस्य दूरम् ll

The peacock- who dances when it rains-  lives on the hill. The rain-giving clouds float high in the sky.
The Sun is lakhs of miles away in space, while the lotus – which blooms at sunrise- is in the water, down here on earth.
The Moon- said to be the brother of the Night lotus- is at a distance of a couple of lakhs of miles.
.
So if we consider someone to be a friend, the distance does not matter- he/she is never really far away!
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28 thoughts on “The Butterfly Effect”

  1. Yes. More so in today’s world. No friend is really far away .
    I also find the butterfly analogy fascinating otherwise. Imagine, a tentative start at writing, feeling our way around the Net, reading, absorbing, appreciating, learning what NOT to emulate, like a caterpillar creeping around a rose bush, across stems and leaves; waiting to cocoon itself- like preparing to think and organize a post, and then the butterfly emerges, flitting opinions and posts and comments, changing an opinion here, an attitude there, etc etc .

    What a great post !

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  2. Congratulations on completing 2 years!

    The butterfly effect is so very fascinating. I had no idea about it but after reading this, can see it around us in so many aspects of life.

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  3. I have heard fo the butterfly effect and it is a fascinating one. You are right about blogs having a similar effect. I personally have been influenced by blogs and by what I have read. The change has been so gradual as to go unnoticed till the more substantial change that came later on became noticeable to others and myself.
    In real life we cannot get such a wide variety of thoughts all at one place. Blogging has certainly given us friends from all over.
    Congratulations on the completion of two years of blogging. Two years here at Shail’s Nest, but I have been blogging for 4 years total now 🙂

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  4. It’s a nice thought no? That somewhere down the line what we write can really make a difference in the long run.

    But the nature of chaotic systems is that we don’t really know how it’s going happen. Which means we might end up producing the reverse effect of what we intended! Meaning that if we say write a post about an issue, someone might feel we’re being supercilious or arrogant and go to the other direction!

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    1. Yes, it is possible that the effect might not be what we intended.
      But that’s okay, I feel. After all in our Indian tradition we always say-
      Karmanye vadhikaraste ma phaleshu kadachana (You have a right to perform an action, but not to the fruits of your action)

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    1. Well, if the Butterfly Effect comes into play here, we can never know exactly how much we have influenced others, if at all.

      I like to think that we can do something significant, though! 🙂

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  5. Lovely post, and coincidentally I did publish a post just now, and find that you have made a mention of news readers as I have too! Butterfly effect ( but telepathically since I read it after I had posted!). And yes, it is nice to think I have virtual friends. And I do envy the blogger meets you have. All the best. Hope to read more and more of your posts.

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  6. Congratulations Manju on completing two years in the blogosphere. You have enriched us with your words, your wit and your wisdom. Distance, as the subhaashitkar says so beautifully, is in the mind.

    The butterfly concept should encourage those who feel sometimes that what they are able to convey potentially to the whole thanks to the net is an exercise in futility, a waste of time.

    I consider myself lucky to have met you in these airwaves. Hope to meet you sometime on terra firma too sometime.

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  7. Congratulations for the 2nd Blog anniversary!

    I treasure your friendship, Manju! The butterfly effect, sure is there…all of us blogfriends feel as if we know each other for ages, without meeting each other…the idea of ‘blogging’ is great! I have been influenced by many of my friends here!

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