Flat Entropy Ramblings | Day 87 of 100

4min read

Why do we appreciate neatness and tidiness? I for one feel much better when the flat is in order. Everything in its place, no strain on the eyes, and no doubt where things are. But on the days I don't make my bed as soon as I get up, or the days where I'll leave the dishes on the kitchen counter instead of putting them in the dishwasher, I feel different. I feel slow, narrow-minded and lazy.

But why does having a house in order give off a more productive, focused and positive aura? I think that just like there is entropy at a micro-level, there is also entropy at a macro-level. Entropy is the measure of disorder in a system (typically used in thermo-dynamics so we're talking about different states of matter here). Boltzmann describes it as the number of different ways the particles (molecules) in the system can be arranged whilst still holding characteristics of the macro-level system (say, a gas). The entropy is driven by a function of it's input, so the number of molecules in the system. But the amount of energy in the system must remain the same in order to not violate the conservation of energy. That doesn't mean there aren't forms of useful and not so useful energy though.

Weirdly I think this can also be applied to my flat. The more things I have (particles), then my flat is more likely to be disorderly (high entropy). I could lower the number of things in my flat, and this would reduce the number of permutations of disorder there could be. I could also spend some of the energy in the system (flat) to tidy things up (lower the entropy), this would mean it would be easier to find things later (useful energy through the conservation of energy). But there is one place where this theory falls down. If I don't tidy up the disorder stays high, which not only means that I can't use things easily when I need/want them but also it drains me mentally knowing that before I do anything there is a small activation energy required. This violates the conservation of energy, but reminds us that we're human.

We're not a thermo-dynamic system of gases, we think and feel and manipulate the world around us to our will. Or not to our will as the case may be. Though we do in fact have free will, and what we are is the product of our environment. As we get to choose how we mould ourselves and our environment in the present, we must also be aware of our symbiosis with it and actually how order and disorder self-perpetuate. If my bed is made, I am more likely to be productive. If the dishes are stacked on the side, I'm more likely to add to that pile. With this in mind, it becomes a answer of reason to be more orderly, rather than a question of mood or feeling.

There are probably more similarities I could pedal with this entropy analogy, but you see where I'm going with this :)