Posts in the Psychology category

Flat People, Resumes and Coded Language

People often speak in coded language - some more than others. The problem with coded language is that it requires a secret decoder ring to figure out what they mean.

I'm not talking about jargon and vocabulary which are used in exclusionary ways. That particularly insidious form of manipulation - taking commonly used and understood terminology and morphing it to have a different, specific, and subtly different meaning - is often used as a two-pronged way in unfair, point-scoring debate:

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Why People Share Articles on Social Media

People rarely share articles to spread knowledge. More often they don't care about the details. They just care if the way the article made them feel matches the way they feel about the general topic.

This is why it's hard for people to keep a grip on facts, reason, or even basic journalism principles in an age when outrage, emotional responses, and clickbait are more important than fact, fairness, and judgement.

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The Paradox of Empathy

The problem with empathy is that too much of it is bad, and too little of it is bad.

Too little empathy, and you're an uncaring sociopath who doesn't care about others' wellbeing.

Empathy is great when it comes to doing nice things for nice people when everything's going well. That's the easy scenario.

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How do you personally handle Impostor Syndrome?

It's strange. So, here's the "humble-brag" part - over the course of my life, since I was 16, I've been a freelance journalist with a large readership, published in multiple countries (and even translated into Portuguese for the Brazilian audience). I've won some very minor awards (not even on the same league as the Razzies). I work on the frickin' Xbox for gawd's sake (which carries a certain built-in nerd-cred with it). I'm one of the most famous programmers for a specific computer. I've made a couple of short films. I've made games. I've made all kinds of stuff. I'm not a household name, but I'm a "known quantity".

I tell you this not because I want applause and accolades, but because I need to set up my credentials so that I can contrast them with what comes next.

I'm hit with Impostor Syndrome all the freakin' time. All the time. Every single day.

For what it's worth, I also have trouble with being complimented - compliments bounce off me... I fundamentally have trouble believing them at all, and I can't take them to heart - no matter how sincere they are. (I'm told, and I suspect, that in many ways this is a very British trait - others may feel the same way, but we owned it and made it ours. Like irony). If you really want to make me feel good? Tell me something I did is cool - I can relate to that.

So far as I can tell, my own personal internal ego dial is always set somewhere in the direction of "mildly unworthy".

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What's the difference between Impostor Syndrome and just Being Humble?

This is how I see the difference:

Being humble

You're good at stuff, are confident in what you do, but you don't let that change the way you treat others - that is, you have an ego that can fit through a reasonably sized door.

Impostor syndrome

You're good at stuff, but believe erroneously, based on internal analysis of the available evidence (and tainted by your own perception), that you're terrible at it compared to your peers, and nothing will convince you otherwise.

This craters your confidence and self-esteem, and will also make it so that you tend to buckle in the face of conflict or resistance. It saps your courage, and reduces your grit.

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