|Real Life - the "Deal With It" list: Part Four, "You vs. The World".
||[Feb. 24th, 2011|08:07 am]
Okay. I wrote more. Yay me.
This time I spent a little over two hours just writing ONE 'chapter' of the list, whereas the first three were put down in 3 hrs. So this is kind of a comparison between "thoughtful" vs. "quick-n-dirty". Lemme know which ones you like better! ;)
Real Life - the "Deal With It" list: Part Four, "You vs. The World".
(Most of this is opinion, though I consider most of it fact. You will likely disagree.)
- Keep it concise. It's difficult to get other people to understand what the heck you're talking about, so clear and simple communication is very important. Unless, of course, you don't care if anyone understands what you're talking about. If that's the case, write things as murky, complicated or "mysterious" as you'd like.
- It's ALL about you. From the time you were born, everything was done for you or to you. Everything was taken care of and all you did was lay there crying, pooing and sleeping. Everything you've learned since then is how to take responsibility for your own care, feeding, entertainment, interactions, etc. Most of life's lessons move you AWAY from being a selfish or self-centered person, because you eventually learn NOT to think only about yourself. Some people move back toward that mental position, but it's more often than not that such a person simply never moved far enough away from it in the first place.
- First corollary: It's not uncommon (or "wrong") for your first thought upon hearing any bit of news is to wonder how this relates to YOU. It may just be an unconscious reaction that passes in a second, but everybody started from that mental-space in the first place. Which is why it's considered "immature" to be a self-centered person, somebody who doesn't move beyond that first thought and refuses (whether they realize it or not) to use their experiences to mentally construct how this news relates to someone else or the world around them.
- It's NOT about you, it's about everyone else! You likely don't remember it, but sometime when you were a toddler you suddenly discovered that it's everyone and everything ELSE around you that makes life interesting, and cool, and worth exploring. And every bad experience you've had from then until now is just one more reminder that it's safer, easier, and less painful to stay within yourself and not interact with the people and/or world around you. When somebody has retreated into themselves so much that they don't interact with you anymore, it's normally just a sign that they really want the pain or bad experiences to go away - and retreat is often the only method they know to make it hurt less.
- First corollary: Everyone has within them the distant memory of the safety and comfort of being an infant, but pretty much any Psychologist will tell you that it's much better to learn new ways to interact with the world rather than refusing to learn anything new in an effort to make the hurting stop.
- Second corollary: In retrospect it may seem pretty obvious, but this is also the accepted base psychology behind "adult infantilism". Everyone, to some degree, wants the safety and comfort that other people used to provide, but some individuals take that desire a bit further than most people would.
- Spam e-mails are DESIGNED to touch these memories of the immature you. Which is related to the whole "selfish" world-view of the very young, and takes advantage of the idea that your first thought is often "how does this relate to ME". This is why so many spam 'mail subject lines have the word "you" or "your" in them. They don't want you to get PAST that first thought, even if it's unconscious, because it's easier to convince you to give them money (or just to trick and rob you) if you start reading all the unbelievable promises before you've moved into your "adult" mindset. Your experienced adult mind knows that you don't get something for nothing, but that initial "how does this relate to ME" reaction is much more open to the idea that you can get some great return for minimal or non-existent effort.
-First corollary: I don't use "you" and "your" so much when writing this list because I want to sell you something. I use them as a literary device to reference the fact that I'm talking about every human being, including you and me. If I were a better amateur writer or a better amateur psychologist, I would probably have thought of a better way to write these things before now. For now, though, this is as good as I can make it. Deal with It. :P
- You have a "MonkeySphere" around you. "Dunbar's Number" (also known as a "MonkeySphere") is the theoretical number of people with whom you can maintain a direct social connection, as first postulated by British anthropologist Robin Dunbar. This theory was first created through observation of primate behavior, then (accurately) predicted in human behavior based on the size of the brain's neocortex. Your "family", "village" and "tribe" spheres are usually about 30, 150, and 1500 people in size, and have been observed around the world in all cultural strata. It's a really fascinating theory to read about, which I highly recommend, and explains quite a lot about human interaction and early societal development. (Cracked.com had a really great article on it too, which is where I first read about it.)
- First corollary: Dunbar's 'main' number of 150 friends has been referenced and analyzed many times in connection with online social interaction. It's actually an imprecise range that could be anywhere from 100 to 200 people who you talk to regularly, so if you have more than 200 FB friends then odds are really good that any number of people over that "core group" of your monkeysphere aren't people that you would initiate a discussion with or interact with on any regular basis.
- Second corollary: It's been postulated that the human brain's limited ability to hold this personal "monkeysphere" together is the biggest reason that any society over a certain size is unable to function properly. In other words, if we could increase the brain's abilities and hold a larger sphere of people as our "tribe", it would eliminate war, poverty, cruelty, unjust laws, etc., etc.
- You really don't care what's happening somewhere else in the World, even if you do. Once your thoughts range outside of your town - or even just your suburb, if your town is more than about 3000, then any people you hear news about are just a faceless "them". You may have direct thoughts or concerns about one or two individuals (even if it's somebody you saw on TV), but seeing large groups in an entirely different culture from your own protesting something, or fighting some other group, in a place far away from where you are... is so far outside of your sphere that your brain is unable to understand anything significant about it. You use the experience and knowledge you've gained over the years to "explain" it to your brain, and then you feel you have a good understanding of what's going on - even if you don't.
- First corollary: This is why you often think another person's opinion of far-away news is idiotic, because it's so far removed from your own opinions. But BOTH of your opinions have, most of the time, been translated to your mind like they're a foreign language - so it's very likely that both of you are disagreeing about things that you really don't understand at all.
- Negative Reinforcement is always easier than Positive Reinforcement. And the first word that most young children learn is "No", because that's the word they hear most often. Part of the "operant conditioning" theory, Negative and Positive reinforcement are intended to influence your behavior - even if you're doing it to yourself. But you get a LOT more of the Negative because giving Positive reinforcement requires more effort or resources. Your parents were much more likely to say "No" or swat your butt. Going the other way requires either several sentences explaining how you were good, or delivering to you something you want - such as a cookie.
- First corollary: This is also why your Boss is probably an ass, since it's much easier to either threaten you or offer cheap "bribes" (which are thin disguises to make you -avoid- the negative result) than it is to offer praise or actual rewards.
- Second corollary: If your Boss IS an ass, it's likely a sign that he/she dislikes their job as much as you dislike yours. If they liked it and wanted to put some actual effort into what they do, then they would spend the extra time or effort into offering Positive reinforcements to influence your actions toward better work results. Using only Negatives is a pretty clear sign that they're just half-assing what they do, and that they aren't going to put more effort into it than just what they have to.
- People don't make any sense! This one is also seen as "I hate all people", but it's often the same thing. Your brain has had to learn how to relate to everything around it, and that's like a computer 'learning' it's operating system one random bit at a time. It would take years before that computer could interact on even the most basic levels, and the vast majority of what it learns would have to be discarded or re-programmed entirely. This is a relatively good description of how the human brain works, since we can't just "install windows" when we're born. We figure this stuff out one bit at a time, we over-write and re-write our brains constantly, and most of what you learned in the past is useless because it isn't the same as what you know to be true today.
- First corollary: This is why it's so hard to understand or communicate with other people. We aren't just trying to link a Mac with a Windows machine to a Linux machine... we're trying to connect SIX POINT SEVEN BILLION completely different operating systems together in such a way that they'll all work smoothly together. Language and Math are pretty good translators, but there really is no such thing as communicating with someone else in a way that does not involve at least two cumbersome and clunky translations of the concept that is being communicated. Think about THAT the next time you have to explain something to somebody, or vice-versa.
- Second corollary: If you realize that what you knew 2 years ago was bunk, and you've since re-written your brain with better information... just remember THAT little fact the next time you're prepared to argue to the death over some point that you're -sure- you're right about. Two years from now, you may even be able to argue the other side.