Monday, June 19, 2006

Real ideal

Choose to opt out of this one. I won't feel bad. I'm going to my thinky-feely place. You've been duly warned.

I have often talked with friends about the idea that there are 'doers' and 'thinkers' in this world. We need both. Without the doers, we'd still be in caves (but would we care?). Without the thinkers, we'd still be in caves (we'd never have noticed that we were there in the first place). It's always an interesting conversation.

I guess what we're really saying with this whole doers/thinkers thing is that, when it comes to how we look at life, most of us fall somewhere on a spectrum that goes from idealism to realism. Some of us (like me) are extreme idealists. Others of us (like my husband) are extreme realists. And of course, there are people who sit at every point in between.

The more balanced people can leave now. You will get nothing out of this. For we extremists, though, maybe this is a valuable point (or maybe not): I think we need each other.

Extreme realists are always asking about the 'what?' of things. Details, details, details. They seem, at first glance, to be highly practical. They can be geniuses. Or they can be Rainman (who was a genius too, after all). The point is, if left to their own devices, they will spin their tires for hours over a small knocking in the engine. Or a bad conversation they had with someone. Or what colour they should paint the hinges on the front door. How to identify an extreme realist: tell them they're an extreme realist. They will argue with you for hours about the minute exceptions that disqualify them from that category.

Extreme idealists, on the other hand, are always asking 'why?' Talk, talk, talk. They are often leaders, executives, and other people who get made fun of behind their backs and whose insight is not valued until they are gone and another much, much worse idealist replaces them. They are all about the pie-in-the-sky, big picture, birds-eye-view. While E.Rs. (extreme realists) will dismiss any idea for which a single seemingly minute detail is wrong, E.Is (extreme idealists) will foresake details if they believe the idea has intrinsic value. Idealists really irritate people at times--they're especially irksome to extreme realists--because it seems to take them forever to get to the point. Not a few extreme idealists have carried the label of 'windbag' at one time in their lives. How to identify an extreme idealist: tell them they're an extreme idealist. They will ask you to explore why you need to categorize people this way, or why you chose the categories you did, or why the sky is blue.

E.Is may understand the complete history of computing but not know how to send an e-mail. E.Rs will cause the downfall of the human race by blindly creating artificial intelligence, which will subsequently dominate and destroy us.

Which is exactly why we E.Rs and E.Is need each other so much.

When it comes to ideas, I believe there is some kind of 'fulcrum' point at which an optimum amount of insight balances an optimum amount of detail. I also think this is true of people, or more specifically, of personalities. There's an optimum point where your actions and your self-awareness come into balance. I like to think of that point as 'happiness' or maybe 'self-fulfillment.'

I'm sure a bunch of much more insightful people than me--actual psychologists, for example--have already got a bunch of well-developed theories around this. But for me, it's enough to know that there's a reason why my husband (I love you, honey) and I seem to argue in totally different languages sometimes--and that that difference actually makes us complementary to each other.

So hopefully all you E.Rs out there are satisfied that I've made some kind of a reality-based point. And for all you E.Is: thanks for taking the time to read this.

9 Comments:

Blogger whyioughtta said...

Just had a related thought on this, assuming (probably wrongly...) that anyone cares about this subject. Well, it's more of a question, really: is pessimism a form of realism or a form of idealism?

Any thoughts would be interesting...

5:58 PM  
Blogger jackp said...

to me...sometimes pessimists are actually realists...

and sometimes they're just annoying depressive types...that really need to get laid/stoned/drunk...you know...get their freak on...

does that help you?

i don't think pessimism is a form of idealism...i think you're using too many 'isms'...

shit....you're right...i'm a E.R.!!!

damnit....

but i'd like to think i'm at times an E.I.....but the fact that i'm thinking about myself this much just really makes me a bore...and full of myself

later

6:16 PM  
Blogger whyioughtta said...

jackp, stop engaging in apologism. and false modestyism.

8:26 AM  
Blogger Ann-imal said...

Umm, I like what your wrote because it totally explains MY relationship with my husband... I, am the "live one day at a time" kind of flaky person and my hubby likes to "look forward" and "dream about the big picture". Sometimes we are in sync and sometimes I just want to keep on drivin'...

10:53 AM  
Blogger angrycandy said...

I'm pretty much an ER who, at time, dabbles in EI. Jack P can verify this (re: our recent three hour phone conversation on the evolution of the human race). Interestingly enough, Jack P accused me of being one of those "annoying depressive types" as he was accusing me of having a pessimistic view of future of the human species. but on an EI level. cause i was talking "theories" and he kinda hates those. but through our talk i kinda found a little hope for us humans cause his detail oriented, less pessimistic, little brain forced my brain into thinking things through a little differently and i found a solution to the human evolution dilemma which basically turned the problem into a tool for a solution. make sense? no? oh well, jackp can fill you in on the deets if you like...suffice it to say that talking things through, as annoying and frustrating as it can be for the ERs and EIs is usually a worthwhile experience...

5:30 PM  
Blogger angrycandy said...

p.s. i'm not implying jackp has a little brain...it was a term of endearment for his brain...

5:32 PM  
Blogger jackp said...

uhhh...ok...yeah...love my brain...

i'm stoned...is that allowed on this wordy blog???

hehehe...see angrycandy...theories are cool and all that jazz...but it takes people to kick the theorists in the ass to get anything going...or just steal their ideas and take credit...

both work...

9:11 PM  
Blogger jackp said...

hey angrycandy...you can delete your comments...you don't have to 'apologize' for calling people's brains little...


argggggggggggghhhhhhhhh!!!

9:24 PM  
Blogger Gizzy said...

I'm currently collecting E.I. benefits and watching E.R. reruns on the TEEvee.

Gizzy

8:40 PM  

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