So, are you some kind of authority on this?

Kind of?

I have a degree in sociology from a four-year state university, but to be honest, I got that after I figured most of it out on my own. I will say that getting that degree is one of the easiest things I've ever done, brain-wise. All I had to do was develop opinions on stuff and explain them in essay form for credit. People-ology is like that -- if you already think like that, it takes practically no effort to continue thinking like that on paper. Ask Hugh Laurie.

There's no real certification for "being able to figure out people really well", at least not as far as I know. Judging from my own experience with them, most counselors, psychiatrists and psychologists aren't any better at it than laypeople, they just have bigger words and a more systematic method for laying out what they do notice. You just start out telling people things about themselves and after a while you get a reputation for being able to predict the really big train wrecks before they happen. If you're particularly apt, and know anything about stage magic, you can convince a lot of people that you're psychic or a mind reader or the like. I mostly don't do it on purpose, but occasionally someone doesn't get the joke.

I don't really work in any field that makes use of the sociology and people-reading, other than the same way most of life makes use of sociology and people-reading. I think the more valuable skill by far is my ability to explain what I see, which I mostly use here, on this blog. Which doesn't amount to a hill of beans. I think it helps me learn languages in the same way it helps me use this one; it's easier to catch the differences between grades of language in everyday use if you can follow other peoples' thoughts on why you say it this way and not that way. But it's not absolutely necessary. It just happens to be a tool available to me, and so I use it.

My only qualifications for declaring myself an authority on fashion, writing, the experience of being bullied, the psychology of gifted kids, the internet, and the practice of generally not being an idiotic asshat are that I do or have done all that stuff, and I seem to have come out of it all right, if not distinctly successful. I have to rely on other peoples' assessments for some things, because that's the way it works, so if y'all are conspiring to blow smoke up my ass I have no way of knowing. Everyone is perfectly free to ignore my advice if they like.

Comments