Harvard Math Professor Tries to Explain on IG Live What Exponential Actually Means

Hello followers and friends! Professor Plane Anglés here, always ready to make complex math easy to understand for my devoted fans! Just remember, understanding math may not help you become a millionaire video gamer or a famous YouTuber, but it cannot hurt!

(In actual fact, your statistical chances of becoming either of those are less than zero, but hey! We want to make math FUN, not boring, and realistic). 

For those of you who missed my informative Instagram Live about the correct use of the term exponential, here is a recap. Exponential is one of those words like “literal” or “democracy,” we use it all the time but rarely with its actual meaning. Like when you say “I literally peed my pants,” you probably didn’t, right? In my case, however – well. One does not get time for kegels when one is a math professor, is all I’m saying. Let’s move on. 

Exponential is a great word, one of my all-time favorites. If there is one thing we have learned during the pandemic, it’s that everyone loves to say exponential! It is terrific! Exponential is like your very fabulous BFF – always ready to party. But, my lovely fanbase, remember: exponential is a bit like many of our elected politicians. It rarely means what it seems to be saying. 

Say you have 2 glasses of wine one day, and the next day you have 4, and then two days later you just down the whole bottle without even bothering with glasses. That would be an exponential increase in wine consumption. Also, probably not a good idea. Try chamomile tea sometimes to switch it up.

Or say you cry yourself to sleep once a week in March, and then twice a week in April, and by the time it’s November you fall asleep as soon as you start crying (which, let’s face it, is a lot and probably also the reason my viewing stats for this IG Live have gone down in the last 10 minutes). Exponential growth! Doubling at a predictable rate!!

My fabulous followers, lurkers, and even trolls who keep messaging me that I am a cutie pi – it wasn’t even all that funny when you started so please STOP – now you have learned a bit more about how to use math terms correctly, let’s commit to saying “a lot” when that is what we mean. Next week on my IG Live platform I will explain how sometimes a negative can be a positive, like when a negative Covid test is really rather good news. Stay home! Mask up! Learn math!

Lalita Dee
Author: Lalita Dee
Lalita Dee is a writer and comedian originally from Amsterdam. Her observational and narrative humor describes her queer experiences as she navigates her way through the US, the heteropatriarchy, and single motherhood. Her humor has been described as “intelligently hilarious” as well as “some feminist BS."