SKerwin: March 2010 Archives

Damned Whippersnappers

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Remember being a teenager*?

Teenagerititude is the state of believing that everyone else in the world is phenomenally stupid — that the solution to every problem is blatantly obvious, and that everyone would be much better off if they'd just shut up and do as you say.

The interesting thing about being a teenager is that you don't actually outgrow it.

At some point a light goes on in your mind, the scales drop from your eyes, the metaphor similes upon you, whatever, and you realize you've been a teenager and you stop. You congratulate yourself on being so adult and on owning up to your past bad acts and you move on with your life.

And then a few years later you realize that you were mistaken, that you were actually still a very-slightly-more-evolved form of teenager despite that revelation, and the scales drop from your lights and you eye what you metaphor and you move on with your life.

Until it happens again.

Eventually you reach a degree of meta-awareness — you recognize that Socrates kinda had a point about the whole 'knowing you know nothing' schtick. That's when you ascend to a higher plane of existence! Then you help Teal'c and MacGuyver out a few times, and eventually you return to the show with your tail between your legs because it turns out your landlord won't accept 'art' in lieu of money. But hey, higher power. You got that going for you.

Until, damn it, it happens again.

Meta ain't enough, nor is meta-meta. Maybe there's some omega-meta state where you stop realizing that you're an idiot, and you get to draw a Batman logo on Anthro's cave wall just to reassure the idiots who didn't figure out the pattern based on Kal and Hal and whatnot. But I can't be sure of that. I think any form of personal growth boils down to suddenly recognizing what a jackass you've been and thus becoming an exciting new form of jackass.

...

So what's the moral of the story? The moral is that I'm stupid, you're stupid, he's stupid, she's stupid, and the primary differentiating point between us is our awareness of our own incompetence. So when something looks dumb to you, remember that it either is dumb, or it's smart in a way you haven't thought yet deciphered — and prudence dictates that you assume the latter until you've assembled reasonable support for the former. And even if something turns out to be legitimately dumb, don't draw conclusions from that, because oftentimes there's more to the story. It's not uncommon to find clever implementations of a piss-poor design; that may be a sign of abstractional schizophrenia, or it may be a sign of the blind leading the brilliant.


*If you currently are a teenager, shut up and get the hell off my lawn. Damned kids.

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