“Adventure and taking risks are important to have an exciting life." Yes or no? That was the statement posed to 150 different countries across the world. Living in the U.S., the land of opportunity, I’m compelled to answer yes, even if I recognize a certain hypocrisy that my own exciting life revolves around going out to eat and seeing movies. But hey, there are a lot of things I haven’t watched, drank, or eaten before.
Apparently, not all of my fellow American citizens agree. Because from where I’m standing, the U.S. is an unremarkable pewter smear. Meanwhile, India is exploding with newly unlocked potential. Allow me to explain. Raphael Volkmer’s infographic National Excitement depicts the worldwide response to this question—do adventures and risk-taking equate an exciting life—but rather than counting results in a bar graph or heat map, he adapted the responses into the weight and temperature of melted pewter that was poured into water to cool. So the most daredevil countries become giant, complex blobs, while the quieter countries are depicted as smaller, simpler shapes.
“On the one hand, I was inspired by the old German tradition of pouring liquid pewter into water on New Year’s Eve to foresee the future,” Volkmer explains. “On the other hand, I had all those digitally generated 3-D graphics in mind.”
Poor Japan is just a 16G, 257ºC pewter excretion. You can almost sense the respectable salarymen squeezing their results carefully out of the toothpaste bottle, placing the cap back on when they were finished. Meanwhile, India is 132G heated all the way to 568ºC. You can smell the incense, see the bright colors, and feel the noisy atmosphere of 1.2 billion citizens scoring their piece of the changing world. Yet even India is dwarfed by the worldwide excitement leader Ghana. A namesake that literally means “Warrior King” has apparently translated into a social mentality that values risk-taking.
Of course, can we possibly say that “risk” in Ghana equates a “risk” in South Africa, which also equates a “risk” in Norway and Spain? Politics, social structures, economics, and environment can flavor such a word with strikingly disparate definitions. Because in my book, going to my favorite restaurant at 8 p.m. on a Friday, sans-rezzy? Big, big risk.
[Hat tip: Visualizing]