Today I’m going to share with you two little words that I know I’ve used before, and they’re not hard to understand, but I want you to get a little more practice with them. Those words are upside and downside. They are each just one word—upside, one word; downside, one word—and they are used to describe the positive and negative aspects of a decision. So let’s think about the question about gene drives. What’s the upside? The upside is, if we can eliminate the malaria mosquito, we could potentially save hundreds of thousands of kids each year. But there’s a downside, too, right? And that is that we don’t quite know how this will work in the wild, and the world’s governments have not yet formulated a way to regulate and control the use of gene drives.
Decisions are tough when either the upside or the downside is concrete and measurable—it’s real—but the other side is kind of nebulous and hard to grasp, hard to measure. I think that’s the case here: we can measure and really perceive the upside to eliminating malaria, but the downside is a little harder to grasp.
Remember one Monday we talked about Facebook and social media companies who have to block or disconnect certain users? What were some of the upsides and downsides of those decisions? When Facebook decides to block a user, the upside is that the user will no longer be spreading violent or hateful content online. But isn’t there a downside too? Does Facebook want to be deciding post by post what content is allowed? Unfortunately, they have to accept that downside just because of how big they are and how their technology is being used. If you want to hear more about that, you can listen to the full episode at PlainEnglish.com/90.
Has someone ever presented you with a proposal and it seems too good to be true? You might ask, “what’s the downside?” I just rented an apartment for the weekend in Mexico and it reminded me that searching for a place to stay is all about weighing the upside and downside. The upside might be a great location, good design, comfortable space; but the downside might be the price. Or one place might be cheaper and still in a good location, but the downside might be that there’s noise from the street, or not much privacy. I’m a very analytical person by nature, so I’m constantly thinking about the upside and downside of every decision; sometimes I need to just let that go and decide. But it’s hard for me!
That’s all for today’s episode. Thanks for joining us once again—thanks again to the listeners who came out to say hello: Iliana, Guadalupe, Mario and Mario’s mom was a good sport, putting up with all this talk about podcasts for a few hours. I put a picture of us on the web site at the bottom of this episode transcript at PlainEnglish.com/91. And I do want to say hello to one more person; she’s not a listener, but her name is Laura and she works in downtown Mexico City. I found myself in a bit of a tough situation and Laura helped me out in a big way when I needed it on my travels. So muchas gracias and un abrazo for Laura in Mexico City.
That’s all for today. Next up, we’ll talk about London’s new take on the old phone booth—and boy are there downsides to that idea. You’ll learn about that on Monday—hope you see then.