For years my family have been on my case trying to get me to socialize more. Even as a child I preferred to stay home and read my books as opposed to go to the big social activities in my farming village, namely high school sports games and county fairs in the summers. I never did enjoy such activities as much as most people. I mean, I enjoyed playing football and running track in high school far more than I did watching them. And anything I could see at a county fair or Fourth of July parade, I could see any day of the year just by looking around my town. No, I would have rather spent my time reading about far off places I would probably never get to see, read about a past that most people will never learn, and read about future possibilities (both good and bad) that I would probably not live long enough to see.
And because of my “different” set of interests, I was condemned by my parents, town elders, and even my classmates as being “anti social.” Yet, this was an absolutely unfair accusation. I love socializing, I just had different interests than most people I knew growing up. I was 11 years old before I made a friend who had the same interests in music, history, geopolitics, science, etc. that I did. And he too was an outcast among my people. When I was 13, I met the girl who later became the best friend I ever had. See still is my best friend even 25 years later. She was even more interested in tech and geopolitics than even I was. She was also the first person my age I ever met who loved reading even more than I did. So we wound up spending a great deal of our teenage years at each other’s house.
Naturally, most people in my school thought we were romantically involved even before high school. No we weren’t. She was among the handful of people in my hometown who shared my interests and I shared hers. As a result of being so different from my peers, I always thought there was something defective with myself all the way through my junior high and high school years.
It wasn’t until I spent a little time at college did I realize that I wasn’t defective. I did much better socially in college than I did as a kid in my hometown. I made lots of acquaintances, several really cool friends I still hear from via facebook, and for the first time in my life I wasn’t condemned for having nerdy interests or loving to read. When I was a kid, my classmates would often yank a book I was reading right out of my hands. They would often steal my textbooks and sheet music in band. About the only book I never had stolen from me as a teenager was my football playbook and my Bible. Even though I am almost 40 years old, I still don’t get why people that don’t read much hate those of us that do. I mean, is wanting knowledge and wisdom such an evil thing? Why, if it weren’t for acquired knowledge and wisdom being passed down from elders to children, we would have never even survived the Stone Age. I can’t stand people who are proud of being unread and unknowing and ignorant. The Dunning – Kruger effect is alive and well in those types.
I guess if there is a point to this post it is this, I am not nearly as anti social as my family and neighbors fear I am. I can go for hours on end on things that interest me. About the only things I don’t like talking about are my neighbors, office politics, popular culture, tv shows, stupid stunts going viral on youtube, or engaging in endless and pointless debates on facebook and twitter trying to get points across to people. Proving people wrong isn’t going to make them like you. I found this out the hard way. Now if I am able to win someone to my line of thinking, it is an ongoing and gradual process where there really isn’t one ‘eureka’ moment. It does get frustrating repeating the same ideas over, and over, and over only to feel like you are not making any difference. I understand why good teachers burn out before their prime. Sometimes I feel like I am not making any positive difference. But we are local and linear thinkers, our species. And for most of our existence that has served us extremely well. That’s why it’s so hard to see the large picture or imagine what the future could be, it’s not natural to us. It is also why visionaries are ridiculed, condemned, and sometimes even killed only for the children of the people that condemned these visionaries to see that the visionary was right all along and it was conventional wisdom that had it wrong.
I am not anti social. Never have been. Never will be. I just have broader range of interests than most people I know. And talking about neighbors, politics, office going ons, gossip, popular culture, etc. gets old and stale for me real quick. After about five minutes of such gutter tripe I have gotten the idea and am ready to move onto other topics.