What do you Do?


It’s been a while.

Here’s a picture of our awesome ninja murder kitty to make up for my absence:

I’ve been doing things again.  Rather, stuff has been occurring that has required me to do things other than write out my NOM’s… Such things included, but were not limited to:

a) having one of my oldest friends stop by for two weeks before he set off on a quest to lay waste to Scandinavia;

b) having a serious party with about 15 friends that went splendidly;

c) having a FUCK TON of grading and preparation to do for my teaching;

d) getting royally sick the last couple of days;

e) a normal life of cooking, cleaning, raising kids, loving my best half, and doing other stuff….

In any case–one of the interesting topics that filled up this time since my last point involved teaching my students how to write a good resume.  This was less of me teaching them how to do a resume, than in laying out the ground rules of what good resumes contain, showing them examples and having them critique and learn from the examples.  They then had to produce one of their own that went through a couple of rounds of peer review and revision.

Thinking about these resumes, it struck me again the diversity of ways in which people create and define their identity. Some people focus on a particular presentation of themselves… they give performances–whether in the rhetoric they use or the face that they show you… in the ideas they tell you and the paths they lay out for you…

This is all well and good. It’s less of the way that I handle identity, but I’ve come to realize–thoroughly and humbly–that making assumptions about what I think is the proper way to do things can not only be rude, it can be something much worse…

Namely–it can be stupid.

However–as much as I recognize and keep in mind that people construct their identities in ways that are different than mine and that these differing ways may work much better for them, I must admit that my first perception and approximation of people no longer come from watching what people say about themselves or what they consciously do to present an image of themselves but rather from what they do and don’t do over the course of my getting to know them.

In particular, I watch to see whether what they say they are going to do is what they actually do.  I also watch to see what they spend the most time doing–what do they prioritize through their actions.. Do they say something is important to themselves, but then not spend much time on it?

Perhaps this is unfair of me.  Perhaps I should just pay attention to what people have told me is their real identity and go from there… but, I must admit, I’m not sure I can do that anymore.  After many profoundly traumatic emotional experiences with people where I took their stated identity as legitimate and true–even though I noticed deviations in their actions–I have become intensely aware of these kinds of things.

In some ways… this intense awareness has been a primary factor in my interest in the Myers-Briggs personality system that I was introduced to back in 1999. You can see my attempts to grok the system and answer these kinds of questions in the numerous posts that I have written on the overall topic of mbti.

In any case–thinking especially about the difference in communication styles between extraverts and introverts–which I’ve specifically talked about in two posts comparing their respective modes of propagation(extraversion) vs consolidation(introversion)–my offhand observation is that introverts tend to pay a bit more attention to what people do than just to what people say or present.

Now–this is just rough observation that I will try to test to see if it pans out over time–but there is a logic to it.  Because introverts’ primary understanding of reality is that it exists inside of them–and that they then have a choice (well–they notice this if they’ve acquired a bit of wisdom–otherwise they just act like socially inept geeks… ) to control and shape the mask they want to have on for reality–they can become (again–only if they have gained some wisdom…) implicitly aware that any data that comes in to them from others is also just a creation or a performance.    Thus, they tend to pay attention to this kind of words-to-actions relationship that people are presenting.  It is this relationship between presented-identity and performed-identity that they consider to be reality..

Extraverts, in my experience, tend to do this less for the simple reason that to be extraverted is to assume that primary reality is outside of one’s skull and thus that is what they pay attention to.  Before something is put out there–it’s not really real to them (in many cases at least…)–and thus they tend to make the assumption that this is what everyone will also pay attention to.  Thus–presented-identity alone is the most crucial factor for them.

Important to add here, however, is that extraverts are–or at least seem–very comfortable re-writing/quickly changing/adapting this outside presentation of their identity to handle changing circumstances.  They don’t see this as being untrue to themselves, in my observations, but rather as adapting to reality in a smart way.

As you might imagine–I think this is where a lot of miscommunication between extraverts and introverts comes about.  Both approach the idea of public identity in different ways and they make different assumptions and set different priorities about what is changeable and unchanging.

So.. if you know me.. keep this in mind.

And that concludes my Public Service Announcement for this week.


About Prof. Woland

I contain multitudes. Come meet us.
This entry was posted in Human Nature and Mind, Identity and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to What do you Do?

  1. Pingback: Think and Feel. | The Philosophy of NOM

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