Michael Battalio

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Serious conversations (part 47):

        This series is a continuation of my conversations with an atheist friend of mine. These are my edited responses from that conversation. The forty-sixth through fiftieth entries deal with introversion/extroversion, social interaction and popularity.

        Last time we started a whole new topic focused on social interaction. I summarized my own personal trouble with social interactions. This entry is a bit of a rathole. I send a bit of time wondering why certain activities are so interesting to some people.

        I frequently have issues of believing people beneath my time. It is an issue that I have struggled with and come to terms with over the last few years. I, honestly, don’t find very many people intellectually stimulating, and that is not to say that I believe I’m smarter than everyone else. I believe quite the opposite in fact. There are many people more knowledgeable than me on a great many subjects. The problem I have is that I don’t know many people that share similar interests with me. Why have a conversation with some acquaintance about some topic I find inconsequential when you could be doing something you find interesting? Most of the people I don’t give much attention to aren’t bad in any sense of the word; they just aren’t interesting to me. Conversely, I try not to be offended when people act like I’m not worth their time. If we don’t share something in common, there is no reason to interact except to be polite. Indeed why do we make friends with certain people and not other, because we find them interesting.

        Following along that line of reasoning, what makes certain subjects/activities interesting to certain people? I wonder why it is that certain activities have been socially adopted as the “things to do”. For example, why is going bar hopping an activity that so many find fascinating? Having been drug “out” on many occasions, there is nothing particularly fun about it. You just end up spending a lot of money. It’s much easier to purchase what you need to make your own drinks and do it at home. I wonder if this speaks to the laziness of people, which is not to say that I think people who do go bar hopping are lazy. It is just a lot less mentally taxing to go drink than it is to enjoy a concert or some such or read a book. Also I think some of the popular enjoyment of the activity results from spontaneity and from the social interaction it allows. I remember from my Psych 101 class that a trait of extroversion is spontaneity. It makes sense that an extrovert that has made no plans for the evening suddenly decides to go out, and bar hopping is the easiest activity. Also, think about what there actually is to do that can be done spontaneously. Going out to eat, seeing a moving, there isn’t very much.

        I think a lot of my particular situation is that there isn’t much to do in Starkville besides going out to drink. There is no symphony or theatre company, no art shows or the like, just a lot of bars. I hope this problem is somewhat alleviated when I move to TX because there are so many big cities nearby.

Saturday, March 02, 2013

Serious conversations (part 46):

        This series is a continuation of my conversations with an atheist friend of mine. These are my edited responses from that conversation. The forty-sixth through forty-eighth entries deal with introversion/extroversion, social interaction and popularity.

Previously we talked about globalization, peace, and war. Here we completely change gears to a new topic. This issue can only be dealt with from a personal point of view since it deals with one’s interactions with other people.

        Being a bit of an introvert, I have found that with most extroverts that they must have something to do every weekend or even during the week if they are bored, and if you or I are not able to attend these impromptu events frequently, we introverts are generally forgotten about. Unfortunately, most extroverts are perfectly happy just going out to some sort of bar and just talking. Having been drug out to events like that, I do not find that appealing. I find it to be a waste of money, so I often decline the invitation. I do admit to being a “stick in the mud” though.

        The last two years while I have been in graduate school, I have kept mostly to myself. All the friends I made while I was an undergrad had left, and I was not in any of the same classes as the rest of the people in the same year of my program. So I just did things on my own mostly, which is great usually because I like to keep busy. However, in those moments when I just want to relax, it is nice to have someone around. And in actuality, I am much more comfortable in social interactions with just a couple of people instead of some sort of party environment.

        The field of physics doesn’t seem to be very social at all. It could just be that the students at MSU and the few places where I’ve visited actual physicists aren’t that social, and everyone else is. Meteorologists, especially of the non-research variety, tend to be very social, so I don’t really have to worry about finding things to do, people come to me. Generally they come to me with things I don’t particular want to do, but they do come.

        I have had trouble having best friends. I believe this originates from the fact that I don’t really hang out with just one person. I have several groups of people that I do different activities with. Close relationships develop because two people spend large amounts of time together. That involves a lot of time just hanging out with each other, which I do not do much of. Additionally, I too have trouble finding people to do interesting things with me. This has a lot to do with uniqueness. There aren’t many people interested in the things I am interested in, but I can cultivate that interest in people we already know. Example, I wanted a bunch of people to watch the transit of Venus with me, and I convinced one non-scientist friend of mine to join me. He was skeptical at first, but when we finally got to see it through the telescope, he was awestruck. I have also shown this friend the rings of Saturn and the great red spot, and he is fascinated with astronomy now. So I now have an astronomy friend. I have had to do similar things with gardening, computers etc. You can cultivate interests in others, and in fact aren’t some of your own interested started because friends introduced those ideas to you.

2003-2016 Michael Battalio (michael[at]battalio.com)