Ripple Effect

How actions determine consequences

Leily Zhu, News Editor

A large body of water stands absolutely still, placid, nearly frozen. Then, a single miniscule droplet of water drips onto the calm surface. A slight ripple forms, small rings extending from the center. If there was no force to interrupt it, the ripple would continue on forever, reaching great distances from a single, miniscule drop.

Many actions can cause a chain reaction. Something one might think has absolutely no effect whatsoever, still does. A look in one’s eyes or a single whisper has the ability to create a feeling of unease in an observer or recipient of the action. It may be a small reactionlike a moment of self-doubt or a hidden rise of emotionbut a reaction is still a reaction all the same. Even the smallest droplet of water can change the structure of an entire ocean.

Next, a large boulder plunges into the depths of that same frozen surface. An impressive splash follows and waves begin to crash outwards from the center. The areas closest to the source of the splash lose their clarity as choppy waves cut through the once-clear surface.

One person’s actions can be as big as that boulder, their repercussions spiraling outward like rough waves. Wrongful actions can easily cause harm to those nearest the individual, whether it’s in the office, the classroom, the friend group, or any other area of life.

A group member fails to complete their piece of the assignment and in turn, the entire group receives a failing grade. One person’s choice of compromised integrity, such as lying, cheating, or stealing, can destroy the reputation of the entire group that the individual is a part of, where the punishments are doled out wholly rather than individually.

Positive actions can have just the same, or even greater, effect. They are acts that reinforce faith in humanity. Acts of kindness, such as generous donations of money or food to those in need, have the ability to splash waves as large as those made by the plummeting boulder. However, these waves wash over the lives of those who have been helped and they spread positivity and gratitude through the ripples.

Now, Mother Nature knows there is strength in numbers. The steady surface of water is interrupted by a torrent of rain, harsh pellets of raindrops falling across its entirety, destroying the surface of water. Their ripples have no chance to extend because each droplet interrupts the attempted ring of the previous drop.

Multiple actions build up to have this same effect. Rather than having one abrupt action that mellows out over time, each added piece continually produces worse and worse consequences with the sharp sting that each drop of rain has in a violent thunderstorm.

A rumor is started and spreads like wildfire. Subtweets through social media are spouted left and right, and soon, friends become foe. Fingers are pointed, more lies are spouted, hateful words that would never be said in person to each other’s faces are cast out, and bridges are burned, never to be repaired.

Each action creates a progressively worse situation, producing more and more unnecessary outcomes, such as a destroyed friendship or an unrelenting feud. If only time would be taken to clear up the situation rather than allowing it to continue on in a haze of hatred. Instead of clearing the clouds, the torrent of rain is unleashed, hammering down, allowing no chance for the storm to level out.

A chain reaction is set off by one, often simple, action. A dirty look sets off an upset emotion, the negative feelings spread throughout every interaction of the day, and rather than one single unhappy being, an incredibly lengthy chain of unhappiness exists.

A random act of kindness, such as paying for another person’s meal, has the same effect. The generosity can pass on: meals continue to be paid for by the previous customer. Kind words make one person’s day, and in turn, the next person and the next.

Everyone has a choice of what to pass on, but not everyone is aware of that. Each action has its own consequence, and it is up to each individual person whether to create a positive or negative chain reaction.