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Stretched too thin? 过度分散

中国日报网 2023-11-14 14:12


Reader question:

Please explain “stretched too thin” in this sentence: Do not try to do everything, as it doesn’t do anyone any good if you’re stretched too thin.

My comments:

This seems to be advice given to, say, someone in a leadership position, someone who doesn’t trust his or her subordinates for some reason. This leader, for example doesn’t let others do their own job and shoulder their own responsibility. This leader is in charge of everything and, hence, runs the risk of burnout and being stretched too thin.

Stretched too thin?

Here, this man (or woman) is likened to, say, a rubber band being stretched to breaking point.

You know, you take hold of a rubber band by both ends and pull the two ends in opposite directions and the elastic band is stretched longer and longer while becoming thinner and thinner in the process.

Thinner and thinner till it snaps.


Probably, too.

It breaks into two when it cannot take the pressure anymore.

Figuratively speaking, a person is described as being stretched too thin when he or she has too much to do. They have to split themselves in order to cover different tasks. As one’s time and energy is limited, they will fail to give adequate time and energy to each and every task.

Obviously, if they have only one task, that one task monopolizes their whole time and attention. If they have two tasks to take care of at the same time, on the other hand, that time and attention is halved, divided in two.

By extension, or stretch, as is the case in our discussion, if they have three, four, five or six tasks to handle at the same time, their time and attention is further divided.

The upshot is, they may end up making a mess of everything, being unable to do any one particular job well.

Hence the above advice: Let others do and be responsible for their own work, lest the boss is stretched too thin.

All right, no more ado, here are media examples of people and things that are stretched in or too thin:

1. Paycheck to paycheck. It’s a phrase that conjures up an image of people in unusual – and often temporary – circumstances. The single parent, trying to keep the rent paid and kids watched and fed with a job that offers flexibility, but not necessarily a good salary. The person without a college or even high school education, relegated to a minimum wage job. The family in which one parent has been laid off.

In fact, living paycheck to paycheck – meaning there's not a cash cushion to cover the bills if the income stops for awhile – is a common condition in America. In the 12th richest nation in the world by per capita GDP, nearly 8 in 10 U.S. workers live paycheck to paycheck, according to a 2017 study by CareerBuilder, a human capital management firm. And the trend crosses over income groups: more than half of minimum wage workers said they needed to hold down two jobs to make ends meet, while one in 10 workers earning $100,000 or more yearly say they live paycheck to paycheck.

And if there's an emergency? A large number of Americans don't have an accessible stash of money to cover a substantial health care expense or car repair, studies show. The Federal Reserve Board in 2017 found that 44 percent of American households surveyed could not cover a $400 emergency expense. A separate BankRate study last year yielded similar results, finding that while 34 percent of those surveyed had experienced a major unexpected expense in the previous year, just 39 percent of those surveyed said they could tap $1,000 from savings to cover it.

“It’s not just people who are low wage earners. People who are making what most of us would consider a decent salary are living this way,” says Cameron Huddleston, life and money columnist for GoBankingRates, a personal finance website. Some people are living beyond their means, while others are struggling to keep up with exorbitant housing and health care costs, she says. “It stretches you thin, even if you do have a decent salary. It’s hard to get by and build that reserve of emergency cash,” Huddleston adds.

- Stretched Thin, USNews.com, January 11, 2019.

2. There is no better time for Clock to come out. With government officials threatening and, in some cases, successfully repressing women’s bodily anatomy, a horror about a woman pressured into being a mother could not be more relevant.

Directed and written by Alexis Jacknow, Clock follows Ella (Dianna Agron), a successful interior designer who is happily married and content with her childless life. However, her friends, who have chosen to have children, belittle Ella and her reasons for not having kids, and her Jewish father, Joseph (Saul Rubinek), begs her to continue the family lineage. Society and religion collide, sending Ella into a state of unrest and paranoia. Is she wrong? The audience knows that Ella is not wrong, but she gives into the pressure of her friends, her father, and society and enrolls in a cutting-edge new clinical trial to restore what she believes is her dormant desire to be a mother.

This film has a compelling and impactful backstory for why Ella is pressured. Society assumes that a career woman is negligent and selfish for rejecting motherhood. As a Jewish woman, she is made to feel obligated to pass down the faith as Judaism is matrilineal. In addition, Ella’s father impresses upon her the importance of honoring the lives lost during the Holocaust. The script offers an authentic look at the many stressors in a woman’s life when it comes to procreation, and Jacknow excels at conveying how particular these issues are to our protagonist. This messaging is made more poignant with the casting of Dianna Agron and Saul Rubinek, who are both Jewish, and the latter the son of Holocaust survivors. Their performances carry the weight of the narrative and are deeply felt.

Clock is a fascinating horror that has all the elements typical of the genre, but the jump scares and hallucinations are not nearly as terrifying as the grating sounds of nagging from her supposed friends and the pseudoscience nonsense that drives the work of Dr. Elizabeth Simmons (Melora Hardin). Ella vocalizes the many reasons a woman may not want to bring a child into the world, but the most remarkable scene is her explaining how honoring Holocaust survivors through childbearing has less to do with them and more with the fear of it happening again. And with the rise of xenophobia and public officials outright communicating anti-Jewish sentiments on public platforms, Ella’s anxieties are being realized in real-time. Clock is a work of fiction heightened by the psychological and body horror with a heavy dose of reality.

Despite having a well-defined conceit, the film struggles with defining Ella. In more ways than one, she is a hollow avatar for the average working woman who has found success and fulfillment outside of children. She is hardly shown to have any connections outside the toxic ones, and her happy marriage is only seen through moments of stress and anxiety. We aren’t given the time to sit in the happy moments. The undeveloped character work makes it hard to root for Ella, but Jacknow’s writing is effective in unearthing the absurdity and the horror that surrounds a woman's womb, which in turn makes Ella relatable.

Agron does well here, with an empathetic performance that endears us to Ella in ways the script does not. She, Rubinek and Hardin are reliable in their respective roles, but there is hardly enough done to flesh out Ella’s world. Jacknow delivers the gory flashes of body horror one would expect, with a few unexpected twists, and the psychological turmoil is competently displayed. However, we lack the gravity surrounding Ella’s choices and their effect on her. Since she is hardly a fully realized person, the consequences of this trial aren’t felt. With that missing emotional core, Clock fumbles.

Clock showcases that Jacknow is a talent to watch in horror, though the film doesn’t stick the landing. Occasionally, the concept is stretched too thin, especially when the character work is lacking. However, Jacknow successfully pulls us into a stress-inducing situation. With such impressive thematic work in Clock, the writer-director will undoubtedly improve on anchoring her stories to characters that resonate because of their development and not just the ideas that make up the character. Despite Ella being rather hollow, there is enough in the script to get the audience hooked on her story and empathize with her plight. Jacknow understands that when reality informs horror, it becomes much more terrifying.

- Clock Review: Dianna Agron Leads Insightful, Uneven Psychological Horror, ScreenRant.com, April 26, 2023.

3. It has been a persistent problem for momager Kris Jenner that her children complain her time is too limited to manage them all. And to give her credit, you don’t help to build a billion-dollar dynasty without a lot of hard work. Be that as it may, the most recent complaint from the kids was heard on episode six of The Kardashians on Hulu when Khloé sits down to make clear to her manager that more support is required. One child or another not having enough of their mother’s attention is a reoccurring trope that extends all the way back to the family’s early years on Keeping Up With the Kardashians on E!.

In the third season of Keeping Up, early in their respective careers as reality star and momager, Kris begins to manage the career of Kourtney in addition to that of her sister Kim. Both sisters immediately complain that her time is spread too thin to manage them both effectively. Kim expresses anger because her mother is distracted as she prepares for Comic-Con. Later, Kourtney feels the pressure when Kris forgets to attend her first photo shoot while she is busy helping Kim.

These complaints began before Kim’s shape-wear brand SKIMS existed and before KKW Beauty had morphed into SKKN BY KIM. It was before Kourtney started her lifestyle website Poosh and gummi-vitamin brand Lemmelive. Khloé hadn't started her clothing line Good American. Youngest sister Kylie had yet to start Kylie Cosmetics or the more recent fashion line khy. It predates young Kendall’s beginning model trotting across the globe and her later development of 818 Tequila. It was certainly before there were MET galas and fashion shoots and appearances around the world to confirm for each child.

To be fair to Kris, managing the careers of five highly competitive and successful daughters – and one low-key son – while also filming a reality TV show, and attempting to be present in the lives of 12 grandchildren would leave any person overextended. Kris even begins season four of The Kardashians by acknowledging she has been overdoing it, stating that she used to “say yes to everything” and try to be on top of every business need that arose for every child. She goes on to acknowledge that spreading herself thin is not a healthy choice and insists that this year she will start slowing down. Such consistent criticism from her children about a lack of management attention and her intention of slowing down begs the question – will Kris find a way to keep her clients happy or is it time for at least some of them to finally move on from their momager?

- Kris Jenner May Be Stretched Too Thin As A Momager, Collider.com, November 5, 2023.


About the author:

Zhang Xin is Trainer at chinadaily.com.cn. He has been with China Daily since 1988, when he graduated from Beijing Foreign Studies University. Write him at: zhangxin@chinadaily.com.cn, or raise a question for potential use in a future column.

(作者:张欣   编辑:丹妮)


Freaking out? 极度兴奋


Scratching their heads? 迷惑不解


Make a spectacle of yourself? 现眼包


Person of interest? 疑犯


Snowball’s chance? 希望不大

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