Blank slate thinking: telling us what we should be attracted to


I am often amused at what I am told that I am *supposed* to be attracted to or impressed by.

As for the saying, I’ll quote this article:

Feel free to stop reading this if your career is going great, you’re thrilled with your life, and you’re happy with your relationships. Enjoy the rest of your day, friend, this article is not for you. You’re doing a great job, we’re all proud of you. So you don’t feel like you wasted your click, here’s a picture of Lenny Kravitz wearing a gigantic scarf.

For the rest of you, I want you to try something: Name five impressive things about yourself. Write them down or just shout them out loud to the room. But here’s the catch — you’re not allowed to list anything you are (i.e., I’m a nice guy, I’m honest), but instead can only list things that you do (i.e., I just won a national chess tournament, I make the best chili in Massachusetts). If you found that difficult, well, this is for you, and you are going to fucking hate hearing it. My only defense is that this is what I wish somebody had said to me around 1995 or so. […]

If you want to know why society seems to shun you, or why you seem to get no respect, it’s because society is full of people who need things. They need houses built, they need food to eat, they need entertainment, they need fulfilling sexual relationships. You arrived at the scene of that emergency, holding your pocket knife, by virtue of your birth — the moment you came into the world, you became part of a system designed purely to see to people’s needs.

The rest of the article, IMHO, is pretty good. It is an extended opinion piece without data, but appears to explain what I’ve seen in my life. Think about it:

When I got my knees operated on, I didn’t much care if my surgeon was a nice person. I wanted to know if he had a high probability of doing the surgery correctly. The last time I flew, I cared only if the pilot and crew could properly fly the plane, and if the engineers designed the plane properly, built the plane properly, and if the mechanics maintained the plane properly.

When I watch a football game, I want my team’s kicker to make that field goal (and, of course, for the center to make a good snap, the line to block, etc) ; I didn’t much care if he forgot to send a card to his girlfriend.

And so, THAT is what people are impressed by. I think that there IS a “human nature” (at least statistically speaking) and someone telling me what I should be impressed by isn’t going to make much of a difference.

Now, of course, there are personality traits that make someone more pleasant to be around, and human companionship IS an essential need. And professional credentials and accomplishments are NOT guarantees of that person being a worthy social companion. But again, I don’t need anyone to tell me on what I *should* enjoy in another person; I KNOW what I enjoy in another person. Of course, getting advice on how to be a better friend might help me keep those friends that I enjoy, but that is a different matter.

And that leads me to the second half of the above photo. Though there are some cultural factors involved (such as fashion, displays of wealth such as “bound feed“, elongated necks), most of us know what we find attractive. Yes, there is some variation between people. And yes, what we like changes with time; I know that if I were dating again, the collection of women I would consider dating would include a wide variety of body types (slender to obese); how I feel when I am with them is what would matter to me. I know that a lot of people might actually say this, but here is why I say this: when I am on a “friendship outing” with a female, there is the “do people think that we are a couple” reaction. And I’ve been just fine with that reaction when I’ve been with a variety of women, ranging from petite to obese. Of course, I DO NOT want anyone thinking that I am being unfaithful to my spouse; I am merely responding to how people who don’t know me might react.

But as to what I find physically attractive: I know what I like and I don’t need to be told WHAT I *should* find attractive.


May 13, 2016 - Posted by | social/political | , ,

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