This Not That

This Not That

|how.odious| Year Two: DAY ONE HUNDRED TWELVE

2017 February 10 [Friday]

Friday Feature

I’m not entirely sure when my love for notebooks grew into a full-on obsession, but it did, and I am. Thus, for today’s post, a little something different. I spent most of the day photographing every single notebook currently in my apartment. It was a nightmare, and that’s enough about that. Instead of going through and talking about how I shot them and why, I will simply get started.

These are the notebooks that traveled with me from The States to South Korea when we first moved here in 2013:

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[pictured above]

Mustard Pattern: Mead, spiral-bound, college-ruled, lined notebook

Puce: Moleskin, book-bound, single-subject, lined notebook

Cerulean Pattern: [brand unknown], book-bound, watercolor paper pad

Crimson: Moleskin, book-bound, strapped, lined notebook

These are all notebooks that either house important information I might need in case of emergency and other such data or are notebooks that have particular writings I thought would be of interest to me in the future. Thus, they traveled all the way from my apartment in Denver, Colorado, USA, when we moved to South Korea. Of course there are many other notebooks that are in storage at my parents’ house, but these were the ones I thought were the most important. So far, only one has proved its worth. We live and we learn, as the saying goes, yes?

These are the notebooks used through 2014:

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[pictured above]

Denim Panda Graphic: Design Lab, mid-fold, lined notebook

Red Orange: Morning Glory, A4, spiral-bound, lined notebook

White Text: Morning Glory, A4, spiral-bound, lined notebook

Lime Mustache Graphic: Pinkfoot, three-quarter-sized, spiral-bound, lined notebook

Wine Text: Morning Glory, half-sized, book-bound, lined notebook

All of these notebooks were purchased during the end of 2013 and through 2014 in Daegu, South Korea. I have always loved notebooks, for as long as I can remember. I have also been quite obsessed with them, but when we moved here to Korea, the obsession became quite real. I’m not entirely sure how many notebooks I bought during our year in Daegu, but these are the ones that survived the trip to Seoul. They were all used for writing, with the exception of the tiny-panda graphic. The panda graphic was used to document the books I read in citation format. My favorite of them is the purple/wine book-style notebook with the text that reads,

Write down your wishes … This magic book is gonna help you

Secret Magic Spells Purebook

Precious memories

Linenote, Idea, Memo, Daybook

Since 1981

Tradition Notebook

Bah … hahahahaha! I love it! I do not believe that any of them were written in once we moved to Seoul in late 2014, but I’m too lazy to flip through each page to find out. I would consider all of them except for the White Text to be full.

These are my used notebooks through 2015:

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[pictured above]

Kelly Green: Ibis, three-quarter-sized, spiral-bound, strapped, lined notebook

Cobalt: Ibis, reporter-style, spiral-bound, lined notebook

Navy: Godo Diary, half-sized, book-bound, year/month calendar, full-page day-timer

2015 was the first year I decided to use a daily scheduler thingy, and I didn’t really use it. I was not particularly fond of this half-sized style, so I did not end up using it much. I liked the idea of it, however. Also, as you can see, I did not do much writing in notebooks because 2015 was actually the year I did ninety-percent of the writing for my first novel, Red & Blue Make Green. Thus, these notebooks were mostly used as diaries and as a place to jot down things. No long-form writing was really done in them. There are a few ideas sprinkled throughout, but it’s mostly poetry, which is kind of odd, and daily goings-on.

These are the notebooks I used in 2016 [some will show up again in the “current notebooks” section, but they were first scrawled in during 2016]:

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[pictured above]

Charcoal 2016: Everyday 25, full-sized, book-bound, year/month calendar, full-page day-timer

Cherry: Ibis, quarter-sized, spiral-bound, strapped, lined notebook

Silver: Paperpack, quarter-sized, book-bound, “1-Paragraph” per page diary

Teal Sushi Graphic: Waru Waru, minature, spiral-bound, lined notebook

Beige Sushi Graphic: Waru Waru, A4, spiral-bound, newsprint, blank notebook

White Sushi Graphic: Waru Waru, A5, mid-fold, lined notebook

I’ve listed the notebooks of 2016 in chronological purchasing order so that I may easily refer to the last two Waru Waru notebooks as also being currently used now in 2017. No matter, I opted for a larger day-timer in 2016 and immediately fell in love with the idea. I didn’t really use that day-timer as a scheduler. Instead, I liked the idea of already-dated pages! So, it’s just a notebook with the dates already written in. It worked out quite perfectly, actually. The red spiral was our trip-planning notebook for our 2016 ETMC Travels: Vancouver Edition. Thus, it holds all of the pertinent information needed for international travel, as well as other such info for the trip itself. Upon our return, the notebook doubled as a scrapbook after I glued in all of the receipts and fun mementos from the trip. The totally fucking awesome silver “1-Paragraph” diary is, by far, my favorite notebook purchase of all time and will be the notebook of choice for every forthcoming trip I ever take. The concept is simple, there’s a date line at the top and then only enough lines to write one or two sentences. It was so incredible to use on a vacation. I mean, no one really wants to sit and journal every single second of the day while you’re trying to enjoy each day. But you can easily jot down a quick note, no problem. Hence, the totally fucking awesome-ness of the silver diary. I absolutely love it! I can’t wait to get my new one for our 2017 ETMC Travels: Sydney Edition! The small blue sushi notebook holds all the little notes from editing my first novel. And that’s probably enough about that. The large beige sushi notebook holds all of the secrets for my fiction writing. The small white sushi notebook holds all sorts of gibberish that doesn’t really need to be remembered for an extended period of time. It’s sort of a catchall for things like Instagram captions, yoga challenges [where I write the name of each day’s posture, etc.], a running list of numbers that coordinate with pictures I want to keep while filtering through my SD card after a shoot, and other such nonsense that doesn’t need to be remembered and documented for all time. Some things get transferred into more permanent notebooks, but most of the stuff that is written in this type of notebook, for which I find this particular notebook to be perfect, is frivolous.

Now, to the good stuff: The entirety of my current Collector’s Notebook collection, i.e. notebooks I’ve either bought or have been given but have no intention of using. Here they are:

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I don’t really feel like there’s a need to go into great detail about each since I don’t use them. I realized a while ago that I had a little problem, and that problem is as follows: I have a really hard time using new notebooks. Obviously, I am more than capable of using a new notebook, but sometimes, when I buy a new notebook for myself and don’t exactly have a perfect use for it, I just won’t use it. Other times, the notebook itself is just too damn gorgeous to sully with my idiocy. Thus, I had a revelation! Maybe I can just be a notebook collector, duh! And so, I am. Case in point, this thing of beauty:

notebook-26

This notebook was a gift from my lifemate on my most recent birthday, AND it is the impetus behind this post. I love this notebook so much that I cannot ever use it. There’s no way I will ever use this beautiful piece of bound paper. I mean, it’s just absolutely stunning. And then, this was when this became not about that. I thought that this post was just going to be a simple photo essay of my notebooks past and present [since 2014], but then it sort of dawned on me that this is a full on documentation of my relationship with myself as a writer. Really, though, I should’ve also printed off all of my digital documents and had them bound by month and year so that I could get a seriously good look at all that I’ve written since moving to Korea.*sigh* I’m not entirely sure what my relationship with myself as a writer truly is, but now that I’ve spent so much fucking time photographing every single notebook in my life over the past three years, I am realizing that maybe it’s time for a nice, long heart-to-heart with myself about my “career” as a writer. Ugh. In the meantime, I bet you’re dying to see my currently-being-used notebooks! I will warn you, though, the notebooks of my present are quite serious compared to those of my immediate past.

Nevertheless, here is a glimpse into my current notebook situation [there are a few notebooks that I’ve intentionally left out because I just can’t get myself to share all of myself, so there’s that]:

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[pictured above]

Aquamarine 2017: Morning Glory, full-sized, book-bound, year/month calendar, full-page day-timer

Black & White: Oxford, study-style, vertical, book-bound, lined, mathematics notebook

Mint Shrimp Graphic: Ibis, miniature, reporter-style, lined notebook

Blush Sushi Graphic: Waru Waru, A5, mid-fold, lined notebook

White Legal: Oxford, A5, lined legal pad

Yellow Legal: Oxford, A4, lined legal pad

Beige Sushi Graphic: Waru Waru, A4, spiral-bound, newsprint, blank notebook

White Sushi Graphic: Waru Waru, A5, mid-fold, lined notebook

My 2017 day-timer is fully used for scheduling my day-to-day to-do list, and it also doubles as a predated notebook. I schedule each week on Sunday nights. I use the monthly calendar to write the actual total of each fiction-writing quota, i.e. if I have a 6000 word quota for a particular metric week [ten days], I’ll write the actual word count, say, 6340, and I keep track of what number each |how.odious| day actually is. The tall, skinny, black notebook is something about which I don’t really want to share because maybe I just don’t want to share my best ideas. So, I’ll just leave it at that. The mint shrimp, reporter-style notebook is used for meal planning and grocery-list making. The notebook itself will soon have no paper in it since the lists are torn out when we go grocery shopping. The blush sushi graphic is a replacement notebook for the white sushi graphic and will most likely be used in a very similar way. The white legal pad is for scratching out shit for nonfiction writing. I use it to take notes while reading research papers and whatnot. It’s also the first place I write down citation info before they are entered into my official references document. The yellow legal pad serves as a place where I note each phase of my fiction writing. I use it as a place to document a sort of timeline to help keep my shit together while writing fiction. I do not use the legal pad for writing ideas or any sort of writing. It’s a mere notepad whereupon notes about my own fiction collect for organizational purposes. Unlike the yellow legal pad, the beige sushi newsprint pad is where the fiction magic happens; new ideas are almost strictly written into it. I also use this pad as a place to work through sentence structure if I’m having a problem with how an idea is coming together. AND … I’ve already discussed how I use the white sushi graphic.

Finally, we’ve come to the end of this truly banal post. I hope, if anything, my notebook collection is somewhat interesting to you. If not, I guess whatever you think doesn’t really matter. So … yea. Thanks for reading! Catch ya later with [hopefully] something much more interesting next Friday. Laters.

Striving, Striving Forever To Be More …

Striving, Striving Forever To Be More …

|how.odious| Year Two: DAY ONE HUNDRED FIVE

2017 February 03 [Friday]

Friday Feature

 

Doing it right
Everybody will be dancing
And we’ll be feeling it right
Everybody will be dancing
And be doing it right
Everybody will be dancing
When we’re feeling all right
Everybody will be dancing tonight

If you do it right
Let it go all night
Shadows on you break
Out into the light

If you lose your way tonight
That’s how you know the magic’s right

(Bangalter, T., et al, 2013)

 

There’s a really good chance that these lyrics have nothing to do with what I am going to write today; the reality is that I think they [the lyrics] are pure, simple genius. However small, nonetheless, there may be the semblance of a connection, which will end up revealing itself as the reason why this song has been stuck in my head for the past few days when mulling what I should/would/could write this week. I want to take a break* from my “‘Victims’ Who Make Victims of Us All,” series because the amount of necessary research has become substantial, at best, daunting, at worst, and since the availability of the research I require proves difficult to acquire, I am now in the process of determining exactly how I will procure the reading I need in order to further my studies on the subject. Thus, for the time being, I have come to a small, perhaps albeit important realization about my life and my role within it. To start, I must admit that I have done absolutely no research for this post, and so, everything said here is and will be pure conjecture sprinkled from time to time with vague observations.

When I consider the vast landscape of “What People Create,” I think that YouTube is a great place to look to supplement an understanding about what people “do” these days. Despite whether or not whatever someone’s creating depends upon or uses the video medium, there seem to be many participants who also use the video medium to share/spread their productions. This willing participation within the video-making medium, when the medium of creation is not video, must mean something. I don’t know what it [the meaning] is, nor do I really want to explore what it might be, but I will just off the top of my head for the sake of … [entertainment?] … faux-intellectualism. Hmmm … a presupposition is about to impose itself … People don’t like to read, but they still want to “know things,” but they’ll only work so hard to be able to know those things, and one could argue that video is easily digestible, so the more easily digestible something is, the more attractive it becomes to the person in search of knowing things. Maybe some people don’t actually want to learn anything as far as “knowledge,” but they do want to “be in the know,” which usually means being “hip” with whatever the current “hop” is of the era, year, month, day, hour. Okay, that’s my big assumption. I said, “assumption,” so back the fuck off!

Now that I’ve gone there, I will backtrack to my original thought, which exactly contradicts everything I am about to say. There is no original thought. No, wait, that’s not true. Shit. Where was I going? One moment please … oh shit, that’s right. So, when you observe the popularity of various types of YouTube videos, one thing is made apparent. The most viewed [by the billions] videos are all fully original creations: Music Videos. That’s obvious to me because music is something that people usually participate in on more than one occasion in their lives, again, a pure assumption or is it a presumption? I will consult the Google … it’s a presumption. Wait, maybe it’s a presupposition? Dammit … one moment please … no, it’s a presumption, but now I will state another presupposition: YouTube videos can be deduced into around five [maybe fewer, maybe more, again, I have not thought this through] categories of participation.

These Categories of Trite Participation are as follows:

  1. Curator
  2. Critic
  3. Commentator
  4. Copy-catter
  5. Aspirational [to be part of one of the above]

Now, how to define these categories and how to know under what category a particular video falls. The videos with billions of views are always music videos by original creators. People love music [an assumption], music is enjoyed on a regular basis [a presumption], thus, people repeatedly “watch” music videos mostly because that’s the best [free-est] way to repeatedly listen to music they love [the presupposition]. Other popular videos ranging in the millions to hundreds of millions include popular music, mind-blowing awesomeness and videos that are either of the moment or hit a chord with the population as a whole. Videos with tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands are also considered popular and thus are popular but with the caveat that [assumedly] the success of these YouTubers depends solely on their constant, consistent participation. And finally, those with a few thousand views or fewer [obviously] are aspirational participants. I think that some people use YouTube solely for the purpose of video storage with no hope of being YouTube famous or popular, and that’s reasonable. Here, today, however, I am speaking about those who use YouTube as a medium for [the semblance of] creative endeavors.

How do you categorize the types of videos that you come across on any given day? Well, it’s pretty simple. Original creations seem like they must be pretty easy to spot with straightforward signifiers. The reality is that they actually are not, and the reason for this is because ALL [presumptively] YouTube generators claim to be “content creators” who are [assumedly] creating original creations, but this, in fact, is not true. Thus, I will point out a few well-known types of videos that will help flesh out the Categories.

Number 1: Curator

These types of videos are of the “compilation” genre and are pretty straightforward, you know, Fails, Cats, Basketball highlights, Top 10 [Fill-in-the-blank], and Best Of [Whose-a-Whats-It]

Number 2: Critic

These videos are usually disguised as instructional or intellectual endeavors, but really, they’re just being the critic, you know, anything within the beauty or fashion realm [they’re choosing shit and then sharing it with you under the guise that they’re teaching you shit; it’s pitiful], the self-proclaimed “nerds,” “dudes,” “bros,” “bitches,” who condense so-called “knowledge” into digestible tidbits that you can then share with your friends to seem smart, satirical videos of other types of videos *cough “Shmonest Curtailers,” and the blatant critic who sits down in front of a camera and babbles on and on about how she knows and realizes so much more than you … wait a minute … shit. Critics are the best! *wink nudge*

Number 3: Commentators

Again, these types of YouTube practitioners are fairly easy to spot, they’re called vloggers. The impetus of their “creation” is to film themselves doing something and then essentially commenting on THEIR OWN FUCKING LIVES! What the fuck? Arguably, no actually, by the standards of subscriber statistics, the most famous of all YouTubers would definitely fall under this category. If you don’t know about whom I speak, then all of this is probably just gibberish nonsense, which it is anyway, anyway. Satirical videos usually fall under this category, as well, because they see the genre and usually want to comment upon its ridiculousness or, less often times, genius.

Number 4: Copy-catter

These sorts of videos fall under the, official mind you, title of “cover bands,” think that ever-growing-in-popularity a cappella group [although they are trying to branch upward into being Original Creators], or basically any form of video that plainly reiterates something that’s already been done or is currently being done or is the “thing” of the moment. Think cooking channels, those videos where people are asked to participate in something uncomfortable while we all watch, the participation in a “challenge.”

Number 5: Aspirational

Uh, I really don’t think I need to go into further detail. Okay fine, they aspire to be one of the above, duh.

The problem isn’t that these Categories of Trite Participation exist, and they don’t only exist within and on YouTube. It’s a general categorization of participants who participate in creative endeavors. There’s nothing inherently wrong with being a whore, I mean, a curator, critic, commentator or copy-cat. I mean, they’re significant, just look to the Tube! It’s all right there; people love it! It doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re important, however. The problem is that I definitely do not want to be part of it. Why? Well, the overwhelming reason is that all of the above types rely on one very specific thing: The original creation of others. Curators simply pick and choose among various original creations and put them all together under a themed heading. Critics only have something to say because someone else did all the legwork, which they [the original creator] then made available, and now the critic, having done nothing him/herself, tears apart how good or bad that creation is/was/will be. Commentators also rely on the doing of others or else there’s nothing on which to comment, and in the case of vloggers, they edit their daily lives so that it may fit inside the packaging of “Me,” so that they may then comment on themselves, which is so obviously contrived. And then, the copy-cats are so dependent upon the original work of others that they would have nothing to do without them. The point is that all of the Categories depend fully upon the creations of true, original creators, which means that a participant who falls under the heading of any of the Categories cannot, in essence, be a creator; they’re just so meta but not meta-creators … it’s more like they’re meta-disseminators … that’s not a word … it is now!

Honestly, I swear to the good lords of rice cake, I watched a certain YouTube “nerd” comment on an “intellectual’s” critique of hipsterism in an attempt to criticize the criticism posed by the critic, with a severe lack of critical thinking, which is essential for critical thinking, when he failed to even touch upon the argument within the critique of hipsterism (Puschak, 2012). The “nerd” instead whined like a little hipster that the writer made an overwhelming generalization about a group of people and that nothing can be gleaned about an individual when taking into account an entire group of people, which, by the way, had nothing to do with the writer’s original criticism that hipsters live ironically (Wampole, 2012) but had everything to do with the “nerd” being butt-hurt by, you guessed it, criticism!, which ultimately proved the writer’s point. And mine, ah ha!, see what I did there? I embodied the role of critic and criticized the criticism of a YouTube critic who criticized the critique of a critical writer. See, falling into one of my Categories of Trite Participation is so easy! Ugh, whatever, you get it, they’re pointless! Except they’re not pointless because it’s all so significant because so many people participate in the ingestion of this pointlessness, which, in and of itself, makes the entire meta-dissemination effort significant but again, not necessarily important.

Thus, we have come to my conclusion. Since I absolutely do not want my work to fall under any of the aforementioned Categories, I’ve come to the realization that I have to work a lot harder than I’ve ever wanted to work before, and now the retroactive relevance of Daft Punk’s, “Doin’ It Right.” If you’re “doin’ it right,” there ought to be some knowable signifiers to validate and prove with no presuppositions that you are, in fact, “doin’ it right.” For Daft Punk, “doin’ it right” means that “everybody will be dancing.” YAS! What are those signifiers for me personally?; I have no fucking clue. I will say this, though, if you don’t already know, I am currently working on my second novel. The one thing I can say without a doubt and a little pride is that I know this is an original creation. How? Well, no part of it falls under my Categories of Trite Participation. Whether or not I’m “doin’ it right,” however, has yet to be determined because I don’t know what the obvious outcome should/would/could be. The easy answer is that I’ll become famous because my book gets published through the traditional publishing route, and everything is awesome. This may not be the signifier, though, because what is the role of publisher?, Curator and Critic. Thus, as I end this post, I’ve come full circle in realizing that there’s no escaping the leeches who exert their significance by merely meta-disseminating the hard work of true creators. So then why do anything? For starters, here’s why: The birth of a seriously kick-ass, mother-fucking great song [an opinion] born of original creators who fight for their need to always be “doin’ it right” [a presumption].

 


*I will eventually return to my “Victims” series, but to know when exactly is impossible.

 


 

References

Bangalter, T., de Homen-Christo, G.M., Lennox, N. (2013). Doin’ it right [Daft Punk ft. Panda Bear]. On Random Access Memories [Ampex reels & Pro Tools tracks]. New York, NY: Columbia.

Puschak, E. [Nerdwriter1]. (2012, November 24). Vlog #41 – What’s so bad about hipsters? [Video file]. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/B7pM4T4AKEc

Wampole, C. (2012, November 18). How to live without irony. The New York Times, p. SR1.

I know what you are, but what am I?

I know what you are, but what am I?

|how.odious| Year Two: DAY NINETY-EIGHT

2017 January 27 [Friday]

Friday Feature

“‘Victims’ Who Make Victims of Us All” Part III / X

[Read Part I & Part II]

Social interaction with a cat is, often times, quite painful and surprisingly complex. Unlike a dog, a cat wants what it wants and the want cannot be beaten out of it. This perhaps is the catalyst behind the cat- and dog-owner judgments, but this is not about that. A cat can, however, be persuaded out of a particular want if a greater want reveals itself. Thus, as all cat owners know, if you can present a cat with an equally alluring option to the one it already so desperately wants, the cat will seemingly do your bidding. Obviously, the cat is still just pursuing its own wants, but if you can positively reinforce the behaviors you want your cat to enact, the cat will continue to enact those behaviors for the reward it receives (Bradshaw, 2013). Like cats, we humans are surprisingly attuned to positive reinforcement, and yet, unlike cats [unfortunately], social interaction between humans is always much more complicated. Don’t you ever wish, though, that interacting with other humans could be less daunting?

boobsho3upload
After my [inept] attempt to explain the fundamentals of Julian B. Rotter’s “social learning theory” in last week’s post as the foundation upon which I will examine why and/or how some people enact behavior and/or become victims of their own volition, I will attempt to convey how social interactions in daily life are not as obviously labeled “skill determined” or “chance determined” as reality-television game shows and Texas Hold ’Em poker. Thus, I ought to begin with a quick overview of how Rotter (along with Phares, E. J. and James, W. H.) tested how people behave when the situation is clearly defined as “skill determined” or “chance determined” in their “Studies of Complex Learning” (Rotter, 1966, p. 4).

Their hypothesis, which I will paraphrase here, went something like this:

If a person (Person A) believes that the outcome of his/her behavior was determined by his/her own action, then when that behavior is positively reinforced, the likelihood that that same behavior will be enacted increases, and when the behavior is negatively reinforced, the likelihood that that same behavior will be enacted decreases. If a person (Person B), however, believes that the outcome of his/her behavior was determined by forces beyond his/her own control, then when that behavior is positively or negatively reinforced, the likelihood that that same behavior will be enacted remains unchanged. (Rotter, 1966, p. 5)

After a series of tests that [you can read for yourself because they’re way too dense for me to explain and examine here] were designed specifically to test how people behave under clearly labeled “skill determined” or “chance determined” situations, the experimenters basically stated under what conditions success would be met, and the measure for each subject was how much time passed before the subject reached “extinction,” which was defined as the subject having an expectancy of success on a scale of 0–10 being 0 or 1 three times (Rotter, 1966, p. 5–9). After a number of tests were conducted, they found that there was a “clear difference with the subjects given chance instructions and those who were not told it was either a chance or a skill task having significantly more trials to extinction (almost twice as many) than the skill group” (Rotter, 1966, p. 7). What this means is that the group of subjects who were told that success was dependent solely on luck or who were told nothing at all, continued to expect that they had a chance to succeed for twice as long as those who thought that their success was dependent upon their own skills. The crazy part to me is that all of the outcomes were completely arbitrary, the simple reinforcement decided by the experimenter. Rotter, James and Phares, were not the only researchers who conducted these types of tests and came to similar conclusions either, by the way (Rotter, 1966).
boobsho4upload

But what is the point of all of this? The point is that people behave differently when they believe or perceive the outcome of a given situation is determined by their own skills or sheer luck. The multitude of various situations in everyday life, however, are not clearly labeled as such. So then how do people manage this vast social landscape, the landscape of social interaction that holds the most value (Mearns, 2016)? According to Rotter, there have been many researchers who have studied and are “concerned with whether the individual is controlled from within or from without. We [Rotter, et al] are concerned, however, not with this variable at all but only with the question of whether or not an individual believes that his own behavior, skills, or internal dispositions determine what reinforcements he receives” (Rotter, 1966, p. 4). Here is an example of Rotter and company’s “Studies of Complex Learning” hypothesis in real-life terms:

Person A and Person B are experiencing the same situation; in that, they’re both seeking employment. Person A expects (remember the “four main components” to Rotter’s social learning theory from Part II) to get the job because she feels that her skills qualify her for the position. Person B expects to get the job because he too feels that his skills qualify him for the position. Outcome X: Now, both submit their resumes and go in for an interview. A week later, they both find out that they have been hired. Person A perceives this success as a reinforcement of her skills and abilities and will most likely enact the same behavior the next time she needs to find employment. Person B also perceives this success as a reinforcement of his abilities and maybe feels lucky that the interviewer wasn’t a bitch and will most likely enact the same behavior the next time he needs to find employment. Outcome Y: Now, both submit their resumes and go in for an interview. A week later, they both find out they were not hired. Person A perceives this failure as a failure of the self and will blame the failure on her own lack of skills or qualifications, and she will adjust her strategy/approach to the next situation wherein she’s looking for employment. Person B, on the other hand, will perceive this failure as a situation beyond his control, that it was a stroke of bad luck, thinks the interviewer was a bitch, etc., and since he does not find the failure to be his fault, will most likely approach the next employment-seeking situation in exactly the same way.

boobsho1upload

So, here we are, upon a bridge. We first stood upon the knowledge that a person’s behavior when a particular situation is known to require skills or depends upon luck is essentially predictable. Now, we’re crossing that bridge to the landscape of social interaction where the labeling of such interactions as “skill” or “luck determined” is impossible. Thus, when dealing with social interactions, we are now dealing with “internal versus external control of reinforcement” (Rotter, 1966). I’ve been wrestling with how to package and present the various ways a person may approach the myriad social situations to show the differences in the perception of those who believe the outcomes of their behaviors are either determined by their own doing or by the doing of others and/or other-ly-ness. The conclusion I’ve come to is to present three social interactions in varying degrees of knowable social behavior. I will attempt to present these interactions through the two perspectives of Person A — who perceives the following situations presented to her from an “internally-controlled” point of view — and Person B — who perceives the following situations presented to her from an “externally-controlled” point of view. This is not to say that both A and B perceive all situations from this perspective. I am merely stating here that they hypothetically perceive the following hypothetical situations in their aforementioned ways.
Social Interaction №1

“Boss and Employee (or any socially hierarchical setting)”

A social interaction between a boss and an employee has a few knowable, definitive rules. The boss knows that she has the power to end an employee’s employment, but the boss also needs the employment of employees. An employee knows that she must fulfill whatever tasks are required of her, but the employee also knows that she ought to be treated well. Thus, there is a social contract between bosses and employees in that the boss hires an employee to do the work, and if that employee does the work, she will be compensated with the agreed upon form of compensation. If the employee does not do the work, she will not be compensated. Each knows the other holds some form of power over the other, and so, interactions between varying hierarchical levels are oftentimes tense. Despite this tension, social interactions with a superior are more clearly defined. A boss says, “Good job.” You must be doing a good job. A boss says, “Bad job.” You must be doing a bad job. Even though this may seem like an obvious, logical response, it’s the employee’s perception of the cause of this comment by the boss that matters. Thus, here is the situation:

A boss has called an employee into her office for a performance review. The review is positive, and the boss has offered a bonus. Person A expected to do well, perceives this bonus as a reward for all of her hard work, and will continue to work hard. Person B expected to do well, perceives this bonus as a reward for all her hard work and will continue to work hard. The following month, however, the boss conducts a similar performance review. The review is negative, and the consequence is a warning. Person A expected to do well, perceives this punishment as a failure of her work and thus, changes her approach. Person B expected to do well, perceives this punishment as unfair, complains that the boss is an asshole and thus, continues to approach her work the same way because what can she do?; her boss is a bitch.

Social Interaction №2

“Customer and Service Provider”

In the realm of customer service, social interactions are still bound to a few knowable guidelines, but the lines become slightly blurred. The customer wants something from the service provider, and the customer will most likely be unable to get the thing he wants unless the service provider gives it to him. The service provider, similarly, is there to give the customer what he wants, but the service provider ought to be treated with, at the very least, some respect. Thus, the situation:

Person A walks into a coffee shop and orders a cup of coffee. Person A expects to be given a cup of coffee in exchange for money. The service provider takes Person A’s money and gives him the coffee. The social interaction is a success, so Person A will most likely behave in a similar way when needing coffee again in the future. The same situation unfolds in exactly the same way for Person B. The next day, Person A walks into a coffee shop and orders a cup of coffee the same way he always does. The service provider snaps at him and tells him he needs to “wait a goddamn minute!” Person A looks around to make sure he didn’t cut anyone in line. If he has indeed cut the line, he apologizes and makes his way to the back. If he has not cut the line because there is no line, he may wonder if it was something he said or the way he said it. If he concludes that the treatment he has received could not have been caused by something he said or did, he can only conclude that the service provider is having a bad day, and thus, however the service provider may behave is beyond his control. Meanwhile, Person B walks into a coffee shop and experiences the same brash service provider. Instead of even making sure he has himself done nothing wrong, having no inkling to think that he perhaps has caused this reaction, Person B responds in equal fury at the service provider asking him, “Where the hell do you get off telling me what to do?”

Social Interaction №3

“Friends”

The first two interactions were essentially between strangers in situations with vague albeit knowable social rules in modern society. This interaction, however, is not between strangers, and thus, the rules become murky, less discernible. Thus, here is the situation:

A friend posts a picture onto one of the various forms of social media. Person A sees the picture and comments, “Haha, nice face!” Person A expects her friend to understand her sarcasm. Later that day, Person A receives a text message that says, “[smiley-face emoji] Thanks!” Since the response Person A received from her friend met her expectations, Person A will continue to behave in a similar fashion. The same interaction unfolds between Person B and the friend. All is well. The following week, a friend posts another similar picture. Person A sees the picture and comments, “You don’t look very happy.” Person A expects her friend to understand her. Within a minute Person A is bombarded with angry texts from her friend berating her with messages like, “How dare you? Why would you write something like that? That’s so mean! You don’t even know him!” et cetera, et cetera. Person A is baffled and re-examines the picture and the comment and tries desperately to figure out what she said that set her friend off. Person A is still confused as to what she did to make her friend so mad. Maybe her friend is talking about something else, so Person A, texts back, “What did I do?” The friend responds, “Your comment on that pic I just posted of me and my boyfriend! How could you write that! Everyone can see it!” Realizing what she did, Person A feels really bad for the oversight. Perhaps that sort of comment shouldn’t be made in public.
The same situation befalls Person B. This time, however, upon receiving the first mass of angry texts shoots back, “What the hell is wrong with you?” The friend responds, “Your comment on that pic … Everyone can see it!” Person B does not perceive that this could possibly be her fault because the friend should know that the picture was posted in public, so Person B responds, “Are you serious? You posted that pic in public! You should know better! Stop being such a bitch!”

boobsho2upload

My point is obvious, if someone calls you mean names they’re revealing a deep, egoistic defense mechanism against whatever weakness you may see in them. Haha, j/k, but maybe. Of course, these are all hypothetical situations and each person’s perception of any given outcome or response to their behavior is handled differently. All I have attempted to do here is translate the result of Rotter and his fellow researchers’ studies — on the way people behave when given direct information about whether or not a given task requires skill or luck — into the internal or external blame a person perceives when an interaction either reinforces or negates a given expectation. Admittedly, obviously, I have but a rudimentary understanding of all of this behavioral psychology. As an every person who did not study psychology in college [except to fulfill the one psychology course necessary as core curriculum], I am fascinated by social behavior and behavioral psychology, thus, I spend my time studying it for fun.

There’s a really good chance that I’m getting some if not all of Rotter’s hard work wrong. If I have drawn conclusions or said things here that are just pitifully incorrect, please don’t get mad, just tell me where I’ve gone off the rails. I’m here to learn. So, if you just want to tell me I’m stupid, well, good luck. If, however, you want to help further my knowledge, please by all means, TELL ME HOW AND WHERE I AM COMPLETELY WRONG! Honestly, I need to know because I really care about getting this right.

In the meantime, I will press on toward the part of Rotter’s “Generalized Expectancies for Internal Versus External Control of Reinforcement” where he determines how to determine whether or not someone possess internal versus external control and how that control determines perception which ultimately determines behavior. In conclusion, as for the question on which I concluded Part II, a quote from the summary of the findings to Rotter and company’s Studies of Complex Learning:

A series of studies provides strong support for the hypotheses that the individual who has a strong belief that he can control his own destiny is likely to (a) be more alert to those aspects of the environment which provide useful information for his future behavior; (b) take steps to improve his environmental condition; (c) place greater value on skill or achievement reinforcements and be generally more concerned with his ability, particularly his failures; and (d) be resistive to subtle attempts to influence him. (Rotter, 1966, p. 25)

Hmmm … interesting, if I may say so myself.

[Read Part I & Part II]


References

Bradshaw, J. (2013). Cat Sense. London, United Kingdom: Penguin Books.

Mearns, J. (2016). The Social Learning Theory of Julian B. Rotter. Retrieved January 11, 2017, from http://psych.fullerton.edu/jmearns/rotter.htm.

Rotter, J.B. (1966). Generalized expectancies for internal versus external control of reinforcement. Psychological Monographs: General and Applied, 80 (№1), 1–28.

It’s Not Me, It’s You

It’s Not Me, It’s You

|how.odious| Year Two: DAY EIGHTY-FOUR

2017 January 13 [Friday]

Friday Feature

Victims’ Who Make Victims of Us All: Part 1 / X [unknown]

In some place, at some time, I [TK] had the following conversation with Jackie [JK] (whose name has been changed for obvious reasons, but if those reasons are ambiguous to you, then much about what I write is probably lost on you, which means, you probably don’t read this blog anyway, but no one does so what does it matter?):

After meeting for the first time a few days prior, while suffering through those first few awkward interactions, we [or perhaps it was only I] finally felt comfortable enough to speak more than an exchange of greetings.

TK: “So, do you like teaching here?”

JK: “It’s okay.”

TK: “How long have you been a teacher?”

JK: “I just renewed my contract for the second time, so I guess it’s been two years, going on three.”

TK: “Oh, wow! Have you always wanted to be a teacher?”

JK: “Ha, no. It’s just a job.”

TK: “Oh. But you’re basically fluent in English.”

JK: “Oh, yes. I’ve always wanted to speak many languages.”

TK: “Nice. Did you study English in school?”

JK: “No. I actually studied art.”

TK: “No way! I was an art major too!” Lame, I know.

JK: “How cool! We really have a lot in common.”

Note: We learned during our first small chat that, as Koreans [although I’m more technically American, but that’s a story for another time] we are both with white guys.

TK: “Yea. You seem like a good teacher. Do you wish you could teach art?”

JK: Chuckles. “Yes, of course. But when I was in school, my art teacher told me that I was bad at art. So, that’s why I’m not an artist, and that’s why I will never be an art teacher.”

TK: Baffled and unaware of what to say. “Oh. That’s too bad.”

JK: “Yea, she was so mean, and told me that I was so bad all the time. She failed me on all my projects. She only gave passing grades to the students she liked, and she didn’t like me.”

TK: Silence.

JK: “But you can’t really make money making art.”

TK: In an attempt to convey agreement, all I could muster was a “M’mmm.”

In some place, at some time, I [TK] had the following conversation with Katie [KT] (whose name has been changed for obvious reasons, yada yada):

After knowing each other for a little while, we met up for coffee.

KT: “How’s your book coming along? I wish I could do nothing all day.”

TK: Ouch. Why do I even hang out with you? “It’s good. Not as productive as I would like, but it’s like that sometimes. What’s new with you? How’s your job? Weren’t you thinking about quitting?”

KT: “Ugh. Yea, it totally sucks. I wish I could quit. I can’t though.”

TK: “Well, I’m proud of you for being diligent.”

KT: “No, I want to quit so bad, but Kevin [her husband, whose name is not Kevin] won’t let me.”

TK: “He makes good money though.” This is all speculative. No one knows for sure what Kevin even does for work, and he’s so vague about it, it’s hard to believe anything that comes out of his mouth.

KT: “Yea, but I have to make my own money.”

TK: “Oh, yea. I get that. I’m glad I at least make money from tutoring so that I don’t have to buy Evan presents with his own money.”

KT: “Yea. When we need to pay the bills, I give him my half.”

TK: “You keep your money separate?”

KT: “Yea. My money’s mine, and his money’s his. So then we split everything.”

Note: I recalled the time that we all went to lunch together as a foursome and Kevin said over his shoulder to Katie as we were all making our way to the cashier, “It’s okay. I’ll get this one.”

TK: Strange, “Oh. Well, I don’t mean to pry, but doesn’t this job pay you well? Like, it’s good money, right?”

KT: “Yea, I mean, we can pay all our bills, but there’s not much left after that.”

TK: Trying not to sound judgey, “Do you keep a budget?”

KT: “No. We try, but there’s not enough left over to make a budget with.”

TK: Confused and unwilling to explain the nature of budgeting to her, “So, you’re only here for the pay, and it’s good enough, but not great?”

KT: “Yea, of course. I mean, neither of us have rich parents, like other people, who can just buy a house for us. We have to pay rent.”

TK: Other people, what other people? This is the situation for the vast majority of people, right? Or am I missing something?, I think to myself, but then, not knowing exactly how to respond, respond, “Oh yea. I guess you really do need to work.”

KT: “Yea, I just need more money.”

TK: “A job that pays more?”

KT: “Yea.”

TK: “Oh, yea. Rent can be pretty steep.”

KT: “No, so that I don’t have to work.”

In some place, at some time, I [TK] had the following conversation with Alice [AC] (whose name has been, yada yada) and Heather [HR] who joins in later (whose name has also, yada yada):

After knowing each other for over two years, we connect after not seeing each other for over six months.

TK: “Hey! How are you? It’s been so long!”

AC: “Yea, it’s been too long.”

TK: “Yea, sorry I’ve been so busy lately.”

AC: “I saw that you published your book. Congrats.”

TK: Chuckles. “Ha, yea. It was stressful, but now it’s over. What have you been up to?”

AC: “Not much.”

TK: “Oh, really?”

AC: “Yea, I got a new job, but then I hated that job, so I quit.”

TK: “Oh, and how is that?”

AC: “It’s nice, but I have nothing to do.”

TK: “Oh. Isn’t it nice, though, to do nothing? I mean, I love it.”

AC: “Yea, but it gets lonely because all my friends are at work all day. And you write and stuff, so you don’t do nothing. I do nothing.”

TK: A slight pause. “You do?”

AC: After realizing what she just admitted. “I mean, I workout all the time.”

TK: No, you don’t, and if you saw her yourself, you’d think the same thing. “Well that’s good at least, right?”

HR: After overhearing us and interjecting herself, “Ugh, Koreans have like super metabolisms.”

TK: I look around the room, and the Koreans in my presence do not exactly fit that profile. “What?”

HR: “Like, Koreans eat so much and they never gain weight.”

AC: “That’s because they secretly workout. Girls will like workout every day and then pretend like they can just eat whatever.”

TK: “Do they deny working out if you ask them?”

AC: “I don’t have to ask them. I can just tell.”

HR: “Oh yea. I never see Korean girls workout.”

TK: I agree; I’ve seen close to zero Korean females while working out outside, and I would know, I workout outside four-five days a week in areas where people [males] workout, so where would she see them unless she never sees a Korean female at her own gym? “Do you workout?”

HR: “Ewe. No. I mean, I’m active but no.”

AC: “I have to workout. If I don’t burn every calorie I eat, I’ll gain weight. So, I have to workout all the time.”

TK: To no avail, I think to myself [yes, I’m a bitch], and isn’t that sort of how weight gain works for everyone?

firstsnowup01-17
*caption below

Recently, a particular personality trait has made itself known to me through the dozen or so interactions I’ve had with, you guessed it, one [yes, all of the above characters (aside from HR) are, in fact, the same person] particular person. A less-scientific term for this behavior is self-victimization (Weber, 2013). A more-scientific term is victim syndrome (Kets de Vries, 2012). The thing I’ve come to realize, however, after interacting with one of the most toxic people I’ve encountered [aside from the time I, unbeknownst to me when I was hired, worked for two hardcore scientologists], is that there’s something within this behavioral trait to be learned in relation to the way that people, nowadays, behave and interact online. Thus, I have begun the task of gathering research about this personality trait and psychological behavior so that I may understand what I perceive as a shift in general behavior as it pertains to social media and the interactions therein.

So far, I have an article, a research paper and an outline of a book about the topic of self-victimization. Obviously, there is much work to be done before I can even get a small glimpse of understanding so that I may, someday [hopefully] write about the behavior I notice. I am unwilling to merely blab my mouth about this and that and the other, and I am currently unable to write about this topic intelligibly and intelligently. More importantly, I am uninterested in writing about anything else right now. Thus, I will delve deep into this topic of psychology so that I can learn for myself what I am truly up against when I interact with those who self-victimize and make the lives around them so equally miserable.

[Read Part II & Part III]


*There’s no sunshine ahead for the self-victimizing type [sad-face emoji].


References

Kets de Vries, Manfred F.R. (2012). Faculty & research working paper: are you a victim of the victim syndrome? Fontainebleau, France: INSEAD.

Weber, J.P., PhD. (2013, December). Self-victimizing again?: there is relief for the persistently victimized. https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/having-sex-wanting-intimacy/201312/self-victimizing-again.

Make Every Day Everyday

Make Every Day Everyday

|how.odious| Year Two: DAY SEVENTY-SEVEN

2017 January 06 [Friday]

Friday Feature

When the aspects of life that are enacted every day become everyday aspects of life, that’s when the magic happens. Once every day becomes everyday, that’s when every day starts to feel like everything. It’s only against the bland that flavor is tasted. The place at where I [my life philosophy] currently stands reveals the sort of mundane essence of my life, especially since “mundanity” continues to surface as the topic about which I so frequently write. People [read the DISCLAIMER] are constantly bombarding my consciousness with droll remarks about how I must “live life to the fullest,” “live like it’s my last day,” “make every day an adventure,” etc., &c. I fucking hate it because they’ve got it all wrong! But the masses are idiots, so they’ll believe every NEXT AD campaign, which has been specifically designed to rob them blind.

Have you ever wondered why your life sucks, how happiness never finds you, why life doesn’t excite you? Well, I have an small inkling as to a possible answer [not to say that I’m the first or only person to have come to this conclusion]. And I’ll tell you, but it’s not going to be what you think it is. I’ll also only tell you if you can accept that everything that will be said from here on out is all opinion, conjecture, my own experiences that I’m willing to share because maybe I’m onto something. Who knows. It’s all too possible that I’m the idiot, so yea. If I’m the idiot, then everything will make sense to you because that means I’m just a normy, and normies are, generally speaking, quite stupid. If I’m not an idiot, well there’s no way of knowing. So, let’s get to it.

The problem [according to me, the writer of this goddamn post] … a dun dun du da! … is that people think that every day is supposed to be special, an adventure, that every day should be lived like it’s your last. Let me tell ya, that’s the straight and girthy path to unhappiness. If the world is selling you a message that requires your money in order to fulfill, then that’s definitely not the direction in which you want to travel. Listen to how stupid it sounds to say, “Make every experience special with X and Y. Experience every moment to the fullest and remember it as the most special moment of your life through X and Y, and then every moment of your life will be memorable and special because you bought X and Y.” If every single day of your life is special and memorable, that directly contradicts the definition of special. So, what is this “brilliant” conclusion I’ve come to? Well, it’s quite simple actually.

everydayeveryday

If you want some seriously special moments in your life, you need to make every day quite plainly everyday. It’s the banal routine that exciting experiences are set against which ultimately makes those exciting experiences exciting. The same goes for things that you wish weren’t such a big deal. If you want something to be exciting or special, you can’t do it every day. If you don’t want something to be such a big deal, you have to do it every day. Does that make sense? Okay, so here are some examples from my own life.

For starters, I absolutely love [like seriously, I think it’s one of the most entertaining things to listen to people talk about] when people drone on about how hard it is to workout. I mean, I get it, but I also get it. When you only work out, let’s say, once a week, yea, every workout is going to fucking suck. It’ll be tough. And then, when people only workout for a short period of time and then take months off, yea, returning to your workouts is a nightmare. If you don’t want your workouts to be a big deal or anything special because you just want to be able to do it without it being this big production, you need to workout every, single, ephing, day. Or at the very least, every other day. It’s the stuff we do every single day that becomes routine, that we hardly acknowledge as being “special.” You sleep, shit, eat, work [maybe], do the laundry, wash the dishes, clean, shower, etc., regularly, and these sorts of things are nothing special [this is not to say you can’t be grateful for the small things in life, but this is not about that]. So, if there are aspects of your life that you wish were “no big deal,” you’ve got to make them routine. Like picking up a new hobby or learning something new, you’ve got to do it every day, and then, before you know it, it’ll become routine.

The other side of the routine is where the magic happens. Let’s say you eat out every day for dinner. Then, when a special day comes along, like a birthday or celebratory event, picking a restaurant becomes difficult because the restaurant has to be either more expensive or more glamorous than the restaurants you eat at every day. And, I’d wager to say that when you eat out all the time, it’s hard to find the special-ness in eating out for a special occasion. So, the only way to have a special dinner would be to eat in, cook. Does that make sense? Or, looked at another way. If you want to have eating out be a special experience, then you need to eat in regularly, that way, when you eat out, it’s special.

These, I understand, are typically reductive examples, but they are examples from my own life. I can’t really come up with anything astute because I am either too dull or too simple-minded to think of more … relevant examples for the every-person. All of this boils down to the lifestyle that my lifemate and I live. I’ll be shamelessly honest. We basically live at the [by U.S. standards of income] poverty level, but it sure as hell doesn’t feel like it. Our everyday life is very much the same. We live on a 15,000 KRW [about $15.00] per day, food budget, not because we have to but because we want to [this does not include the budgets we have for domestic items and entertainment {100,000 KRW/month for each}]. We basically eat the same two dozen things in a weather-coordinated [some things we only eat in the summer because it’s hot, etc.] rotation. We eat out within our daily budget about once or twice a week, and the rest of our money gets saved up or invested.

When the time comes for something special like a holiday or birthday, we greatly exceed our food budget with no financial consequence because the money’s there. We also only watched four movies in a movie theater last year, one of which was while we were on vacation. When we go to the movies, though, we only see them in IMAX 3D. As far as vacationing goes, we vacation once a year, and I’ll just say this, on our most recent ten-day vacation to Vancouver, we lived large. We spent six months saving up all the cash we’d spend on that trip, and after the plane tickets, AirBNB rental and whale-watching tour were booked, we had $200 per day to spend. We had a really hard time spending that much money because that’s a shit ton of money to spend every single day, and not a single penny was added to our credit card. But see, we live every day on a strict budget, that way, when we have the opportunity to spend frivolously we a) have the cash to do it and b) thoroughly enjoy begin able to do it.

Yes, our everyday life seems quite lame, but whenever anything happens beyond the everyday routine we heartily stick to, it’s quite spectacular, special, exciting, adventurous, different. I’m also not saying that we’ve figured it out and that living this way is perfect. Sometimes I just want to do something more, live beyond. And so, sometimes we do. We don’t stick to this plan as if our lives depend on it. We do stick to this plan, though, quite successfully because it’s what we both want. Yes, I can hear you saying, “But you could die tomorrow! If you don’t live now, you’ll never live at all!” I get that sentiment. I also get how hard it is to live a disciplined life most of the time so that you can live large some of the time, but when you do live large, it’s awesome. If you live large every day, then living large becomes routine, which means you’re not really living large anymore, you’re just living your routine life. And to the “But you could die tomorrow!” thoughts I say this, But you could also live until you’re 100. Why feel burned out by life when you’re only sixty or at the pace some people live, at forty?

My whole philosophy revolves around Life making each tier and experience available to me when I’m ready, only when I’m ready. Yes, there’s a strong case to be made for “Living it up!” Where that motivation comes from, however, is a place of fear, fear that your life will be lost without you having experienced EVERYTHING. The more likely case, fortunately, is that you’ll probably live a pretty average life until you’re old and grey. No one wants to accept this, of course. This is the battle. The struggle is real. No matter, living as if you’ll one day be old and grey is living your life through hope.

The whole point is not to point fingers at who’s living better or how to live your best life; the point, for me, is that I want to have truly significant moments and experiences in my life. And so, I consistently think about how to make this happen. If I make every experience significant, though, then none of them will be because that’s my normal. Does that make sense? So, what I do instead is I live a simple life the majority of the time, and whenever anything beyond the ordinary [which is quite ordinary when considering most of my days are filled with coffee first, writing, reading, running, working out, the yoga, some piano playing, watching old movies, shopping for groceries, making dinner, eating dinner, showering, watching basketball games, watching the lifemate play video games, and then sleeping] happens, it’s special, and more importantly, I remember each moment with more clarity and gratitude. [Again, obviously, what I consider to be a simple, boring life is something for which I have immense gratefulness. This, however, is not about that. This is about how, too often times, I hear people complain about how not-exciting their lives are even when they’re jam-packed with excitement, or how it’s impossible to have an exciting life when you don’t have money.]

*sigh. To conclude, I suppose I will end with this: You also don’t want to get too ingrained in a routine either because then you’ll lack growth through the lack of new experiences. Just like how when you go, go, go, it’s hard to grow as well because if you don’t take time to reflect and apply all the lessons you’ve gathered, then the go-getter never finds growth either. The key, of course, then becomes balance. Why, though, is balance so difficult to establish? What is it about being human that swings us so vigorously between extremes?

 


 

 

‘Unskilled and Unaware’: How Not To Be Stupid

‘Unskilled and Unaware’: How Not To Be Stupid

Friday Feature

|how.odious| Year Two: DAY SIXTY-THREE

2016 December 23 [Friday]

“[Ignorance] more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge.”

– Charles Darwin (1871, p. 3) à la (Dunning & Kruger, 1999, p. 1121)

As an aspiring writing, the toughest thing about writing nonfiction is that I tend to stray into rant-type territory, and at this point in my life, I ought to be a better writer, which ultimately means, I ought to be able to say something without being all, what’s the word, bitchy?, about it. Thus, I’ve done a little due diligence and have an interesting little topic about which to write [rant … no … write … not rant … ]. So, here I go.

ffday63ignorance
*caption below

For years, I have been frustrated by how seemingly crazy [stupid] some people act and behave, and for the longest time, I couldn’t figure out what exactly “it” was. You know, that sort of Gertrude Stein-ism of wondering if there’s a “there there”? After basically writing and writing and writing about how I just can’t stand people who are, to put it bluntly, stupid, I realized that that’s probably not the best way to approach dealing with the frustration. So, I opted for a headier approach and began reading and conversing about this frustration with real people. Then, one day, the most perfect thing happened. My long-time life-partner “dropped a bomb on me” (Simmons, Taylor, & Wilson, 1982), when he sent me a link to a study about all of the things I could not prove yet constantly felt.

The link was to a research paper entitled, “Unskilled and Unaware of It: How Difficulties in Recognizing One’s Own Incompetence Lead to Inflated Self-Assessments,” which was published back in 1999 in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. The whole point of the study, conducted by Justin Kruger and David Dunning, was to test whether or not their argument, “that when people are incompetent in the strategies they adopt to achieve success and satisfaction, they suffer a dual burden: Not only do they reach erroneous conclusions and make unfortunate choices, but their incompetence robs them of the ability to realize it,” holds true (1999, p. 1121).

What they’re trying to prove is, if you’re incompetent and/or unskilled, it’s highly likely that you’re unaware of your own incompetence. Another, more-preferred and less-euphemistic, way to state the problem would be, Are stupid people too stupid to know that they’re stupid? The short answer is, yes. Crazy, eh? Obviously, I suggest that each of you read the paper yourself rather than believe what I have to say about it, but since I’ve read the paper, it’s unlikely that the people who actually should read it [those who are “incompetent”] will actually read it because, like the article states, “the incompetent are less able than their more skilled peers to gauge their own level of competence” (Dunning & Kruger, 1999, p. 1122), which means that those who are “incompetent” are less likely to think that they lack some form of knowledge, which further means that this entire Feature will seem pointless to them.

The long answer is that Kruger and Dunning conducted four different studies that tested the participants on various levels of competencies ranging from humor to logic. If you only read the method and results of one of those studies, read Study 4: Competence Begets Calibration (begins on p. 1127). After each participant completed the tests, they were then asked to rate themselves against the other participants, and then, they were asked to predict their own scores. There are many more details to the study, but I’m trying to give a general impression. Again, you really ought to read the study for yourself. The results shed light on the overwhelming consensus that Kruger and Dunning were correct in their initial argument and predictions.

The predictions were as follows:

Prediction 1. Incompetent individuals, compared with their more competent peers, will dramatically overestimate their ability and performance relative to objective criteria.

Prediction 2. Incompetent individuals, will suffer from deficient metacognitive skills, in that they will be less able than their more competent peers to recognize competence when they see it-be it their own or anyone else’s.

Prediction 3. Incompetent individuals … will be unable to use information about the choices and performances of others to form more accurate impressions of their own ability.

Prediction 4. The incompetent can gain insight about their shortcomings, but this comes (paradoxically) by making them more competent, thus providing them the metacognitive skills necessary to be able to realize that they have performed poorly. (Dunning & Kruger, 1999, p. 1122)

As aforementioned, all of Kruger and Dunning’s predictions came true. It seems as though stupid people truly are too stupid to know that they are stupid. Obviously, my writing about all of this is quite crass and probably, what’s the word, condescending?, but I’m just the messenger. Again, since the two research scientists present all of the data in a much more deferential way, you should really just read the paper for yourself. I understand that most people don’t spend their time reading the results of scientific studies, but I find this one to be particularly poignant, especially when considering the state of the world and the past few national decisions, globally, that were voted upon by the general public. The butting of heads, as it were, of the competent and incompetent arise from two very different outlooks. “Thus, the miscalibration of the incompetent stems from an error about the self, whereas the miscalibration of the highly competent stems from an error about others” (Dunning & Kruger, 1999, p. 1127).

What’s the point of all this? Honestly, I still don’t know. I only ingested all this info about ten days ago. The study seems to point at two highly conflicting issues: Both incompetent and competent people suffer. “… unskilled individuals suffer a dual burden: Not only do they perform poorly, but they fail to realize it. It thus appears that extremely competent individuals suffer a burden as well. Although they perform competently, they fail to realize that their proficiency is not necessarily shared by their peers” (Dunning & Kruger, 1999, p. 1131).

In conclusion, Kruger and Dunning suggest that they too may have fallen prey to their own incompetencies, which would mean that they are ignorant of their own incompetence. An absolutely wonderful conclusion to have come to realize. They end the article beautifully by basically saying that sure, they found all of these correlations and have results that prove their initial thoughts to be true, BUT the results also suggest that there’s really no way to know whether or not you’re competent because, if you’re incompetent, you don’t know it, which sort of means that all of this work means nothing. Ha! Amazing.

For me, as simultaneously enlightening and frustrating the entire study and research ends up being, the evidence points at something larger. To me, the study sheds light on a simple question that every person should ask him/herself, constantly, but that question can only be asked after s/he accepts that s/he does not in fact know everything, which is the crux of all the research. People are entirely unlikely to consider that they don’t know everything, especially those who know the least. Nevertheless, the question is, “What do I want to know that I already don’t know now?” And further, “How do I make sure I continue to become more knowledgeable aka competent?”

Apparently, no one can really reveal your own incompetence to you, so the answer is quite simple to me. Assume that you’re quite incompetent. Only through this acceptance and understanding of the responsibility you hold over your own life can you ever become more competent. No matter how slowly you achieve some level of competence, all you need to know is that you’ll always be incompetent. All you can hope for is to become less so.


*… not as promotion, of course, but as nostalgia (Gray, 1747).


References

Darwin, C. (1871). The descent of man. London: John Murray.

Dunning, D. & Kruger, J. (1999). Unskilled and unaware of it: how difficulties in recognizing one’s own incompetence lead to inflated self-assessments. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 77, 1121-1134.

Gray, T. (1747). Ode on a distant prospect of Eton College. London.

Simmons, L., Taylor, R., Wilson, C. (1982). You dropped a bomb on me [The Gap Band]. On Gap Band IV [7″ & 12″ vinyl]. Beverly Hills, CA: Total Experience Records.