Monday, September 28, 2015

People you never meet..

..but feel like your true friends.

It could be just a feeling. Maybe you would meet them and don't like them that much anymore. Maybe I could have met a clone of myself and not liking him at first sight.

I remember when I was reading a computer magazine in the 90s and someone complained how people focus more on computers and have no life, then mentioned his co-student who in his own words "had the dare" to say this "Who needs girls? You should focus on your Pascal!" (Turbo Pascal, that old programming language I never used much, but was high during the 90s). I don't know the guy who wrote this letter and even worse so the second dude who he mentions. If there is an opposite of six degrees of separation, here is a guy I never met who mentioned a second guy I never met and I always thought about that second person who I never met, what is he doing now? Where is he? What is his current view? Did he switched 180 degrees into "normality" (most of them can't take the social pressure and they do) or is he still fanatic about coding?

It's not like I want him to be what he was. If he is happier after switching to "normal" then I am fine. But it's so rare that someone says something that is so counterintuitive in the face, has the balls to say it, also reveals a personality I would like to meet, we might have similar problems or wishes. I instantly feel like a friend to this person.

And that's what happens when you meet a girl who is not only into computers but is into coding or demoscene. Or a girl who has a monologue with me and says things I wouldn't expect based on our culture doctrines. And I am like wow, she is like "I know I am crazy, I talk too much without letting you speak" and I am like "No, no, I truly enjoy this, continue!". Or that girl which was looking quite autistic and was bullied at school. Where is she now?

And the lesson here is not whether being "normal" is good or bad, whether focusing on special activities or seeking for your soulmate is better for you. I don't want to have an opinion on this, actually it doesn't make sense since for some people the opposite than "normal" makes sense (and people will disagree, because it's supposed to be by cultural standards that everyone wants the girls at the end, even if he codes). I just want to focus on how sometimes an unknown person who expresses ideas that are unpopular and happen to match your own revolving ideas suddenly feel like he has more common with you than the persons you meet everyday.

I was reading into a different philosophy in psychology from an author called David Smail. His ideas are counterintuitive to the regular methods of psychology about how we are trying to help/fix patients with common assumptions and if our methods fail, it's their fault, they didn't try enough. He has the view that we always blame the patients but never the environment, which seems very counterintuitive to what we as a culture believe, because you'd rather believe everyone has his own responsibility rather than it's the environment that's faulty. Nevertheless, there are some more ideas which I learned.

The primary idea is that "Absolutely everyone wants to be liked".And yes, I am reading this from the wiki page about him, not sure I read about this idea much in one of his older books. But it stayed on me because at first it was the only idea I couldn't figure out (Yeah, another new-ageish sounding like the universe is love, or everyone wants to be liked). But it makes totally sense about our psychology and the forces that drive us. It's both what motivates us and what makes us crash at the end. I am content with how everything is explained in my mind with this idea. And I think it's like a double edged sword, the bringer of happiness and despair in human lives.

When someone tells me the cliche "Hey, you all do that for the chicks. Even democoding, psychologically you are doing it for the chicks. Every creative thing happens to secretly (unconsciously) impress the girls, even though you know you would just look more geeky and unsexy to them". I'd like to add something else in the equation, it's not the girls, it's the need to be liked, to be accepted, for people to notice you. It makes more sense that even creative hobbies are happening for this. Of course you also end up liking the hobby yourself and acquire some useful skills, or get positive feedback about how proficient you have become with it (although that's like unconsciously telling to yourself, hey look how good I become every other day, I am wondering how adorable people will think I am when they see me coding like this). The girls are not the end (Then, what is the end for the girls themselves, the guys? What about people who cannot hook anymore?). The girls is just another means to feel significant, to feel like people like you. If you know that someone of the other sex loves you, then you elevate your feeling from that of the average loner to someone for whom another beautiful existence cares, thus making you believe you are special and so more likeable. Love is another way to feel like you are very likeable and not a common Joe who nobody cares about.

I would like to write about these things in another post, since I diverted. But here is where I am going with it. There was a specific text in the first book I am reading "Illusion and Reality" that hit me. He said something along the lines that you don't have enough mental energy to go against the cultural core beliefs. Maybe it isn't exactly what he said but what I understood out of it. He said that no matter how strong you think you are, it's very hard, almost impossible to believe in some ideas that are contrary or taboo compared to the common beliefs and strongly feel confident about these ideas. I would digress at first, I would say "No, there are strong thinkers that went against the established status quo!". But it's the idea that matters here. This is all because we want to be liked! Most of us are afraid to say something unpopular because we feel we will be frowned upon. Some of us do, we fill strong at the time, but then this is what happens. We have our doubts. Anyone can come and debunk any idea anyway. Especially in the subjective realm of human experience. But if 99% or even 30% of the population believes specific ideas and talks about them, then you have a lot of "friends" to hold upon, feeling that you are not just the only "crazy" who believes that, but many feel like this.

But what if your idea was very unpopular? Certainly there might be few people in the world who believe your idea but they are very much rare. So, suddenly you glimpse someone saying something totally counterintuitive like "Forget about girls, Pascal is the future!" and you think "Wow, I wanna meet this guy!". And it's not like I think Pascal is the future or I don't care about girls. But that guy farted in the face of "normality"! That guy said something so against the regular notion of "normality" as taken from granted by our modern culture, that I suddenly felt less alone. I felt that there was another guy struggling with all these ideas about not being normal and about our programming hobby being frowned upon at the times, which isn't much anymore since everyone is onto computers, everyone thinks he is a geek, even if very few still code, but at the time when you felt alone and there was no internet and everyone told you to get a life and nobody understood what you did, that was a glimpse of happiness that somewhere there is another person who believes what you believe. Isn't that what makes a friend? The "Other me" as some greek philosopher put it (I don't remember where I read this). Of course, it's not that I want all my friends to be like me, most of them are quite different in many aspects, I only want to preserve this magical idea of someone feeling truly alone even among people he knows because his views on life are "invalid" to the common sense of his era, then suddenly another unknown person supports his views of life and he doesn't feel lonely anymore for a glimpse.

As a final example, imagine if you were gay in the 50s. You would struggle with the idea and everybody would frown upon. You wouldn't even mention it, maybe even "agree" to people who were against it, in order to hide it. At that era, everyone who would say bad things about gays would be tapped in the back in the friendly manner, he would feel connected and not lonely, because he agrees with the majority. But imagine what would happen today if you where against gays. You would be frowned upon totally, and you would be a loner in your opinions, knowing that everywhere you talk about your beliefs, nobody will take you seriously and even if someone believed something similar, he would keep silently in fear of others. And then you found another person supporting these unpopular ideas (which changed 180 degrees from the past to the present) and you don't feel alone. Suddenly you feel slightly more confident about your ideas because you are not the only one supporting them.

Btw,. I am not against gay, I am just siting the first example that comes into mind. To be honest, I don't care about gays, they don't make me sad or happy and I can hapily live with them among us in society, and I believe many people who are today pro-gay, they really are "Look at me, I am a progressive thinker!" or "I don't want you to think I am against gays, so that I must claim I am not, but I don't really care at the end, I only care that people doesn't misunderstand me (dislike me)" , because today you must be progressive so that people will like you, but in the past you could be against gays and most people would like you too. We are all doing it for the likes, and the only people who care are gays themselves who struggled with this. In the 50s a more conservative mind would be adored, nowadays you must be leftist or something to be liked, and sometimes people want to be considered openminded but then they are closeminded with other matters, when not many people support these other matters. We are doing it for the likes, not because we really believe. Unless we have a special reason to believe in the unpopular, like when we struggle with issues ourselves that are currently frowned upon but we can't help it, like being introverted or autistic or overly sensitive or fat or asexual or whatever. Just think about it!

I think I diverted, but look how the liking theory goes into that stuff. Behind all the "look I am progressive" or "I care about you" or "The universe is love" or whatever rocks your boat, there is this primary human need to be liked, to be accepted in the community, to be special. It's not love or sex! Those are subparts of this need. And this need is like a double edged sword, because sometimes we are needy of it, we are jealous, we fight with each other, we are like "Look at me, why don't you look at me?" and we are desperate with life because of it. At least that's my current view now, maybe many people feel different about what drives us and I am ok. But I think this realization helped me understand more about myself and the world. It's even like a meditation exercise where you have to be more aware of this force and look beyond it. And it explains a lot about everything.

It also explains how you feel more friends with people who share similar unpopular ideas as you but you have never met them.

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