Let’s eat cake and celebrate! *giving oneself a pat on the back*
Why? Shouldn’t the celebration be on the 100th?
Partly inspired by the excuse given by Ha-joon Chang about the title of his book, “23 Things They Don’t Tell You About Capitalism”, one should explain why 99 holds more significance than, say, 100.
The significance is, first and foremost, in the number 9. One won’t recite the numerological or alchemical stuff related to it. One would simply use one’s own experience with the number.
The emotional, psychological, and visual barrier
The call concerning the continuous weakening of the currency, is getting louder. If the trend continues, “it will break through the psychological barrier at 14000 per US dollar”. At 13999, the number 9 becomes the threshold, the curb for the currency from entering a new perceived psychological value or number.
This psychological tool also proves beneficial to marketing world. “Get it for only 999.99!” or, as one walked past a stall displaying items on sale, “on special price from 49 to 99!”
It is a nice trick to get consumers to underestimate their purchases. We should not be shocked and surprised that the trick works. We are willingly putting ourselves to be tricked.
We would perceive the price as being in lower end of the number. Our brain unconsciously uses the
floor() function instead of
round(). And, since 9 is visually close to 0, we read 999.99 not as 0.01 away from 1000, but as an extension of 900, a three digit price instead of four.
The Sign of The End of an Era?
Another trick inflicts those whose age currently ends with 9. One experienced blues when the cool-kid turned 9 because then he got only a year left before he turned 10, to the double digit age. A 19 year old anticipates the joy of turning 20, a 29 year old dreads the day she’ll turn 30, and so on. It’s that stasis or limbo in which one basks in the glory of achievements, laments lost opportunities, fears and braves the future. It is the moment right before an (n) digit series turns into an (n+1) digit series. Finish whatever goals you want to achieve before “restarting” with a new set of goals for the next decade.
This perception of the end of an age also resulted in semantic error. Some people celebrated the new century at the beginning of 2000 instead of 2001. Some of us perceived the 1999, not 2000, as the end of the twentieth century. 9, once more, gives the illusion.
The Quite Annoying Counter
Yup, 9 has the propensity to be annoying, specially in counting items. We feel more comfortable counting even numbered items. When things end at 9 or numbers ending with 9, we would wish for or get one more item to make it to the next tens, or hundreds. It would be a number easier to remember and pronounce.
As one composes this celebratory babbles, the word counter shows a number that is approaching 500. However, one should keep the spirit of this post. One shall end this at 499 words.
So, there goes the last word.