Oh my, I’ve done it now. All hell broke loose after I naively suggested to somebody he “work harder, or smarter or backtrack and work differently” when he asked (probably rhetorically, but I didn’t make the connection then) why he doesn’t have the productivity of X. X being a common acquaintance, not me – my work can’t be measured in quantitative terms (what I do, that is). Excluding the possibility of him just snapping or having an external pressure of reaching the same productivity, is it so unreasonable idea?
Now, I don’t have a psychology background so I don’t know why he got angry, but I can guess. Of course it was my fault. Not that I care, mind you. But I can understand his need of protecting his status-quo, he has to think it’s external not internal. Change is always hard, from particles to people – one needs an external force, an impulse to change your momentum, otherwise the system conserves the status quo. If, for instance, I fail at something, it can have 2 probable classes of causes – one external and one internal. Either I did right but the external conditions were wrong, or I did wrong and the external conditions don’t matter (unless by sheer chance the result is right, it’s been known to happen – but right now the problem is failing). However, in life we don’t really have a way to quantize other people’s work so we go by the guessing game if the work you do is different than the work I do. If we both do the same kind of work (say counting chickens or making horseshoes), then we can be closer to reality with our estimates. And there’s the kicker.
Humans have a self-preservation thing going on in their brains, I’ve seen it at work in just about every person I’ve been close to – including in me (which is why I kind of drink sometimes). We don’t like being hurt (or wrong), psychologically. Me thinks it’s like being wrong (or acting wrong) is equivalent to bonking your knee on some sharp surface, sometimes we’d rather not walk just not to get hurt (obviously I’ve not seen 50 nuances, shades or what’s that movie being called now at cinema, so we disregard that member of the equation). So when an external force acts to correct our course (our reasoning or our action) we react to defend it – hey, isn’t this some sort of physics thing? Oh yes, there is. Oy Newton, you bad boy…
In other words, it’s obvious there’s a resistance to thinking the reason for failure was internal – that’d constitute an impulse that might change my momentum and make me proactive instead of reactive (also it would make me wrong – hence hurt). I don’t want to feel hurt ergo I don’t blame myself for failing. What remains then? Well duh! It’s clearly external – the world conspires against me, the other fellow surely bangs his boss (even though his boss is like 60, bald, fat and both him and his wife would probably object to that) or the measuring is somehow faulty (by accident or not)..
Now, the reason of him snapping might well be objective – I’m not exactly a model of perfect human interactions so I might (hell, make it probable, but it got me thinking) have said it in an offensive manner. That’s a given and not worth exploring – as in I’m not interested in exploring it. But the other reason is worth thinking about, it’s helped me in quite many situations and also now powers up my bullshit detector. Is it me or is it you? Am I influenced by my own preconceptions? Do I have to defend my reasoning? Can I take advantage of the energy of that impulse to power up a positive change in myself (taking criticism and making it work for me)? Think about it, folks. Make things as simple as possible, but not simpler… Don’t reduce your hypotheses just for the sake of it..
By the way, has anybody tried to explain social interactions using particle physics? That’d be worth a google in my book, trying out quantum tunneling calculations on people.. Though you can imagine: how the hell can somebody love being woken up every morning at 6am, eat, crap, wash, color match clothes (that one’s a doozy if you’re like me and only see 8 colors when picking out shirts), go to work, work with/for sometimes idiotic people and come back home, again and again, 70% of the day every day, and for money that only has value when other people define it? I think that’s when tunneling occurs – there are people who do, for reasons that escape me.. So I drink and simplify by using the Carlin principle: “Think of how stupid the average person is, and realize half of them are stupider than that”. Wrap that one around your geocentric theory.