Dear normal people,
I know you love talking to people about people, their kids, sports, their kids’ sports, the weather, how someone or something “is doing”, who got promoted and who didn’t, and all the supposedly exciting drama of “he said she said” that entails. I know that your idea of fun usually involves people, parties, celebrations, outings, and that the only way you can interact with others is over breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
(Did it ever occur to you that you use your mouth too much?)
I know that you like to entertain and that you prefer your “stage” to be as large as possible. I know that you also like to watch other people on stage and that you like surprises, especially surprise parties. I also know that you like to shop and buy beautiful things and that you like to decorate your house with conversation objects which can be used as props when you entertain guests.
I also realize that you idea of new experiences involves meeting new people or going to new places and that those places are shops, restaurants, clubs, and bars, whichever country they may be in. I know that you genuinely care that other people are having fun in the same way as you do, that is, talking about kids, sports, kids’ sports,… , I get that! And I know that you think that other people who do not enjoy your preferred activities of going out to eat or shop must be shy or socially retarded or loners, who are not living an exciting and fulfilled life, like you do. I get that too!
The fact is, however, that there are few things that I and others like me find more boring and less enriching than “socializing”. The level of stimulation I get from normal social conversation with normal people, firing off brief sound bites in restaurants can best be illustrated by spending 30 minutes looking at the following diagram. Just try it out to see what I mean. The only reason I occasionally partake in social events is to make you happy.
I like complexity pondering how economics, market theory, ecology, physics, history, sociology, etc. interact on a grand scale. This requires a strong imagination and lot of information to process to appreciate. I have realized that in most cases, normal people are not a source of information or interesting ideas, and giving them the benefit of the doubt tends to have a bad return on investment. Hence, I prefer to hang out with a select few friends and associates.
I also realize that people’s writing tend to be better composed than their spoken word with less redundancy and repetitions. I can read and think approximately 10 times faster than I can listen to someone talk, so listening is an idling experience. I have noticed, though, that if I get drunk, my brain functions slow down and I become normal or even slightly retarded which makes it less frustrating to socially interact with normal people. This is not a good sign.
I sail, practice martial arts, fix bikes, play hockey, read several books a week, volunteer for a nonprofit organization, write a blog, and write a book, and have previously been interested in biology, electronics, astronomy, programming, brewing, cooking, fitness, strength training, cycling, jet planes, and many other things. I can participate in most any sport you can think of or at least give it the old college try. Regretfully, most normal people are typically not in any shape to do this. I can also discuss most topics. Regretfully, again, normal people usually do not know anything because they rarely open a book and only talk about their kids, sports, their kids’ sports, etc. Hence, interacting with normal people degenerates to the lowest common denominator which is eating out (many normal people can not cook either) and talking about the mundane details of our lives. I do not enjoy that and so I prefer to hang out with people who are interested in sailing, electronics, etc.
My imagination and initiative go somewhat beyond watching TV and playing computer games, so I do not need someone else to structure my day to have a sense of purpose or avoid getting bored. I can entertain myself all day for years on end. I also understand that with few interests and a lack of imagination, jobs or organized activities are helpful to provide the structure for those who can not create it themselves.
Now I am willing to entertain the idea that somehow I got this all backwards, but I am not willing to discuss it over dinner at a stupid restaurant. If you want to convince me, I’d need a 1000 words essay on why exactly my life is not fulfilling and yours somehow is.
I do not mind that people enjoy socializing and I do not think it is an inferior activity; it is just not for me. (As I alluded to I think of it as a information gathering activity something which it is quite worthless as in most cases. I do enjoy conversations but it is almost a lost art how to have a conversation if there are more than 2-3 people involved. The more the worse. Try bringing 10 people to a restaurant and see what happens.)
Now, what I do not like, nay, what I almost resent is the cultural perception that socializing as described above, that is, going to an eatery and small talking, is THE activity to strive for and that if you do not enjoy it you are judged to be inferior and that you live an miserable life.
I know that this judging covers the entire range of “well-intentioned”, but it is quite arrogant nonetheless.
Outings is just one activity out of many, yet it is so utterly dominant as an activity that suggesting that people live a boring life if they don’t play soccer, say, whenever they get together would be extremely weird. Come to think of it, I liked doing activities with many people when I was a kid because it usually involved playing soccer, hide and seek, etc. When social activities turned to “going out”, things just became less interesting.
(There is a similar perception that travel is awesome (if you don’t go anywhere, you never experience anything), that children are awesome (if you don’t have them you are not fulfilled) and that accumulating possessions is awesome (if you don’t have a lot of stuff you are not successful. However, none of these are as strong as the “going out” expectation.)
I am very well aware that many people enjoy socializing because their “interface” is not one of information gathering and processing, nor is it one of mastering the physical world or contemplating the spiritual world, but of connecting with people. However, due to the above it is as if they in particular can not, will not, or simply habitually ignore that many people are simply going along with the cultural ideal simply because it is so normal.
Sometimes I would really wish to drag your average social butterfly into an academic bookstore and tell the person that now we’re just going to wander around here for 4 hours and enjoy ourself, not talking, and in the end we’ll both spend $70 on the most interesting textbook we found. And yo wasn’t that fun?!!!!!!
But I’m too considerate to do that.