Monday, February 27, 2012

Friendship, Technology, and Fear.

I'm not sure I've ever learned how to be a good friend.

Does this mean I'm not a good person?


Even online personality profiles tell me I'm less kind than average. I don't feel less kind. So this must mean I act less kind.

This is why I think it would be great if everyone had their own reality TV show for a few days, once a year. We'd get to learn so much more about ourselves by going to videotape.

If it's become standard in professional sports to do all this analysis after a big game, or during training, then why not for everyday people facing everyday problems? I think we could really benefit from that feedback, with or without a coach.

But most people are probably more socially adept than I. I think I'm okay much of the time, but I am making up for a lack of emotional connectivity with intellect and rote tricks.

Maybe we all feel this way? I think this is another place technology, and the 'Primer' mindset, can help. Do others feel like I do? Well, a blog crawler could easily tabulate keywords and associated phrases.

Imagine the relief: "Well, no, not everybody thinks like you think. Not everyone feels what you feel. But 64% of the 30 Million active bloggers in the world have expressed similar things to what you are right now."

Forer effect is a really good sign that most people's fears and beliefs are pretty universal. It's why I feel comfortable, when data is lacking, to use personal anecdote as a guide rule in how I approach problems. If I imagine myself in a certain position, I can usually get an idea of what a person is feeling or how they are going to act.

But it takes a lot of work on my part. It is not intuitive. And, I often just wind up stuck in my own head, or my own problems, and I end up walling myself off from others, despite my best intentions otherwise. I am not good at sustaining the effort. And I wind up upsetting my friends while I'm trying to empathize with them. I either wind up some sort of overbearing problem-solver or a distant sociopath. But Your Mileage May Vary.

I recently upset a good friend. I didn't mean to. I was trying to understand her predicament, because I sensed a lot of turmoil in her life that kinda tasted like impending doom. But maybe it was just impending upheaval and change. I tend to be wary of extreme change. It's an aspect of my fear of extremism in all forms.

But I upset this friend while trying to puzzle out what she was thinking, how she was doing what she is doing. I don't know if I threatened her independence, or ruined her concept of me with naivete, or what. But I tried my best to send the sort of message I would like to receive. And it didn't go over too well.

Maybe I just need more instant replays, so I can master my swing, through better feedback on results. But I hit a foul ball.

If I can't even figure out how to communicate with myself, how am I supposed to do it with someone different? Someone who has different sensitivities and problems, who has lived a completely different life from my own?

And so we are not all alike. We are all completely different. Which is another reason we need algorithms and computers to help us. They can guide us on how we are different. "64% of people expressed a similar keyword phrase to what you are feeling, but of those, a 42% majority used this synonymous expression, and only .001% said it with your language and phraseology."

You are a unique and beautiful snowflake.

There are ways you can help yourself and others that are amazingly universal to all humans.

We just have to figure out the intersection of the two. Or, I do. Because I have a hard time empathizing intuitively.

I am very afraid.

My brain is fogging up, cutting out like a faulty hard disk. I kept spacing out last night. I told myself I was tired. I meditated. I slept nine hours. I drank two cups of coffee. I'm still nervous & weird and having a difficult time focusing. What's going on?

Somebody help!

But the lines are down. I am nervous about repeating past social disasters. I am told that interacting positively with other people is necessary to feel good. Work is probably a good place for this. But when I can't maintain focus and build rapport, I tend to find I am burning bridges as fast as I can build them. I turn into the hot mess. Which is a problem.

At my workplace, there is a lack of reliability. There's a certain tendency toward flakiness. I am definitely part of this. Overcoming my fears would help immensely. So I work at this. I try to be open and communicative. I do my best to be kind and available. Sometimes this comes across as strange.

Again, it would help to get feedback. I'd like to know: What am I doing that weirds people out or makes them distrustful? Let's go further- is it all in my head? If I just went into work and smiled and nodded through everything, would it all work out?

I tend to think I am functioning at a much-reduced capability. But maybe others don't notice. I am told others don't notice, but then the way people interact with me seems to change dramatically. Huh? What is going on?

I'm sorry, I had to call in sick to work today. My head hurts. But I don't have a headache. I have the heeby-jeebies. I have the fear.

I have the brain-fog chronice fatigue syndrome. I have the lack-of-willing syndrome. I have the obsessively internal cannot stop thinking syndrome.

I have the I-don't-know-what.

So tell me, what's going on?

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