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Flip side

[ 2009-02-03 11:31]     字号 [] [] []  
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Flip side

Reader question: What does the "flip side" of something mean?

My comments: The flip side means the other side, the side that's often ignored or simply unseen.

You can best understand the flip side by tossing (flipping) a coin in the air. That is, you flip it – hit the coin at the edge with the thumb to send it flying in the air – and you may see the other side. You see, there are two sides to every coin, as there are two sides to everything else.

Or you flip a record from Side A to Side B – Side B will be the flip side. DJs on radio talk constantly of "See you on the flip side" and that means "Talk to you later (when I turn the record over to play the other side)". And since songs placed on Side B are sometimes there to make up the number (meaning they're not as good), the flip side of a record becomes synonymous with songs of poorer quality.

For that matter, "flip side" in general points to the unfavorable aspect or effect of something, especially if it's not readily observable. The flip side of early success, for example, is that it may inflate a young person's ego to such a degree that he may not be able to get over himself, which, sooner or later may prove his downfall. Besides, people who have early success often find it harder to handle adversity later in life, unlike it is for those who've been facing lots of failures growing up. In short, early success may not be worth your while.

The lesson? Succeed slowly. No hurry. Take you time and do it easy.

Alright, here are a few media examples of "the flip side" for you to mull over:

1. Since it was introduced, the flat-screen TV has steadily made the traditional tube TV seem obsolete.

LCD TVs look like flat-panel computer displays. The TVs have a backlight and thousands of red, green and blue pixels that open or close to let light through, creating colorful images…They are thin and light, can be wall-mounted and the best can display bright, detailed images. On the flip side, most sets can't display deepest black or distinguish subtle shades of gray and black, and fast-moving images may blur.

- Buying A Flat-Screen TV, April 26, 2008, wsbtv.com.

2. Death

Here's the flip side: in biology, things eventually die, but there's no good explanation for it. There are hints that switching genes on and off controls ageing, but if our theory is right, those switches shouldn't have survived natural selection. Then there's the argument that an accumulation of faults does us in. However, there are plenty of whales and turtles who seem to age ridiculously slowly - if at all. Of course, if we can work out why, that could be great news for future humans (if not for the planet).

- Five mysteries of the universe, The Guardian, February 2, 2009.




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.